Reformation and Counter-Reformation
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures…” 2 Timothy 3:15
Who is the man, whose writings still generate so much interest that one collector paid $30,000 for a first edition of his work which now resides in a bank vault, who taught Tyndale, influenced Martin Luther, and printed a Greek New Testament that was consulted by the King James Bible translators? His many admirers, who circle the globe, will pay huge sums for his writings; his detractors will spend a great deal of paper and ink denouncing him. To quote J.A. Froude in his work, Short Studies on Great Subjects; “There had gathered about his name the hate which mean men feel for an enemy who has proven too strong for them…The vengeance which the monks could not inflict upon him in life, they proposed to wreak upon his bones.”
This man was named Desiderius Erasmus and through his eyes we can see Bibles whose roots stem from the Apostles and whose branches spread around the globe, bearing the fruit of the Reformation Bibles, such as the German Luther, French Olivetan, Italian Diodati, Spanish Reina-Valera, and the King James Bible.
In Erasmus of Christendom by Roland H. Bainton we are told that Erasmus’ father became a priest and went to Rome, supporting himself there by copying manuscripts. In Joseph Mangan’s Life, Character, and Influence of Erasmus it is said that his parents sent him for six years, to Gerard Groote’s school of the Brethren of the Common Life, a group which made their living by the copying of manuscripts. Mangan also says that because of their location in Holland this group was not tainted by many of the heresies of the Roman Church.
When the parents of Erasmus died of the plague in 1483 he was sent to a monastery. Froude goes on to say that Erasmus was heir to a moderate fortune and since his guardians wanted it for themselves they sent him to a convent at Brabant in the Netherlands. According to The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge he described his education as an attempt to force him into the life of a monk. Froude says in his The Life and Letters of Erasmus that it was common to kidnap boys and girls of money or rank and send them into religious orders in the 15th century. Erasmus wrote that children whose parents had demanded their release had been buried alive or otherwise murdered. He complained about the immoral behavior and drunkenness of the monks, as well. Frederick Scrivener in A Plain Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism says that Erasmus was forced to become a priest, became an Augustinian monk, and joined a monastery, although Durant says in The Reformation, Volume 6 of his The Story of Civilization, it was only because of the library it held. He took advantage of the free education and “consumed” the libraries. Eramus’ tract On Contempt of the World showed his contempt for the life of a monastery and the monks and priests who were more pagan than Christian.
He left the monastery at about the age of 20 and sought a position near Brussels, Belgium with a bishop who had a great library. Erasmus found many manuscripts there and then secured his release to go to the University of Paris to earn a doctorate in theology. He didn’t respect the degree but said only that to fight the monsters he had to fight he must dress like Hercules. Both John Calvin and Ignatius Loyola, two other players in the Reformation were schooled there although neither of them was as disgusted as Erasmus was by the teaching he encountered. He finally left the University of Paris claiming that heresy did not arise among the laity but from the teachers. He called the theologians of the time men with rotten brains, dull intellects, and brutish manners. He claimed that they were proud and surrounded themselves with “bodyguards of definitions”. He moved on to Italy searching for manuscripts. Pope Nicholas V, who had died in 1455, had sent scholars to scour Europe and Asia Minor for copies of Greek and Latin manuscripts and had added 5,000 Greek ones to his collection in the 8 years of his effort. Erasmus devoured these.
He made friends with Vatican librarians and was given access to everything they had. Some of these libraries were destroyed by the French in war after he had gotten everything he could from them. He also befriended scholars who shared his anti-papal leanings. Bainton notes that Erasmus asks in one of his writings, “Is Pope Julius the successor of Jesus Christ or Julius Caesar”? He then spent the rest of his life in England and Protestant Northern Europe. He noted the serious errors in the Latin Vulgate Bible of Jerome and began to compile a Greek New Testament of his own.
One important point to make is whenever someone says that something in the Bible is or isn’t “in the Greek” they are lying. There is no “the Greek”. All Greek New Testaments from which Bibles are translated consist of the readings of several manuscripts. At present there are over two dozen Greek New Testaments that are used for Bible translation and study compiled by various scholars from the pro-Catholic United Bible Societies and Nestles-Aland-Metzger’s to Berry’s Textus Receptus. Some manuscripts have only a part of a book in them, some contain several books, but none contain the entire Bible. Again, when someone says that something is or isn’t in the originals, he, too, is lying, as no one has seen the originals since, at least, Tertullian’s time, in the second century. There was never any Bible in existence which contained the original manuscripts of every writer from Moses to the Apostle John. As the Old Latin Bible, before Jerome, was compiled from the Greek originals called the Greek Vulgate, and as the Syriac Peshitta was also compiled from originals in Hebrew and Greek all Bibles after that had to rely on copies and translations in order to be put together. We can only either by faith or by logic and science determine whether or not a particular reading was in the original writings of the Bible writers inspired by the Holy Spirit. The question comes down to then, if God inspired a Bible, did He not also preserve it or if God inspired the Bible then why didn’t He preserve it? When someone holds up a Bible and says that he is holding God’s inerrant, infallible word, does he mean the one he has in his hand or something no one can touch? Paul speaks on the importance
of a single word in Galatians 3:16 and Jesus says that every word is important in Matthew 4:4. Is this so or not? If a modern scholar sets up two conflicting authorities for you and they both say different things then who becomes the final authority? Him?
Erasmus, in spite of his contempt for the Catholic hierarchy, was offered a cardinal’s hat but refused it and probably could have been Pope if he had wanted. He was the most highly respected authority on Greek manuscripts and the most highly respected scholar, in general, of his day. Today, there are over 5200 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, many of which were not available in Erasmus’ time and yet, over 99% agree with his Greek New Testament. Less than one percent disagree. In his life, from 1466 to 1536 he produced several editions of his work, rejecting manuscript readings from the Vatican’s Codex Vaticanus, “discovered” in a Vatican library in the late 1400’s, and upholding readings from the traditional text used by the Greek churches for centuries. Writing in 1815, Frederick Nolan, in An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Received Text, says that Erasmus attributed the corruption of manuscripts to Origen. He goes on to say; “It is indisputable that he was acquainted with every variety which is known to us” and “Erasmus published an edition, which corresponds with the text which has been since discovered to prevail in the great body of Greek manuscripts.”
What was the era in which this great work of translation and collating of manuscripts could be done right under the nose of the Pope? Studying Michael Bennett’s Richard II and the Revolution of 1399 we see Henry IV ascended the throne of England and was faced with revolt. The majority of the 1400’s was spent in uncertainty for the English throne until Richard III was killed and the Tudor dynasty began. Archbishop Arundel, in 1407, had declared that church law was supreme over all secular laws and the Roman Catholic Church was growing stronger in 15th century England. However, even before Wycliffe’s death in 1384, monks were reporting with alarm that his preachers were spreading their anticlerical ideas all over England. Called Lollards, in 1395, they were strong enough to present to Parliament, the governing body of England that represented both the common people and the nobility under the king, a statement of principles. They did not believe in clerical celibacy, according to Durant, transubstantiation, image worship, pilgrimages, prayers for the dead, the wealth of the Church, confession to priests, ceremonies of exorcism, or the worship of “saints”. They denounced war as unchristian, luxury as immoral, abhorred all oaths, and sought disciples from all classes. Richard II had threatened to arrest the representatives of the Lollards in Parliament. Henry IV persecuted them and some were burned at the stake for heresy. This unrest, working from the ground up plagued the English Church for the entire 15th century.
The Reformation was aimed at a reformation, as in change, of the Roman Catholic Church, by Martin Luther of Germany who rejected the sale of indulgences by a Dominican friar named Tetzel while Luther was professor of theology at Wittenburg University. Reformation in an individual is not salvation as we know and the Reformation still produced churches that believed
in the union of government and church in opposition to God’s word. That being said, Luther composed in Latin, 95 theses, opposing the sale of indulgences*, affixing them to the main door of the Castle Church of Wittenburg on October 31, 1517. Luther was not trying to start a new religion and was a devout Catholic. He merely wanted the Church to oppose corruption and selling salvation and forgiveness for sins. There is so much to tell of the heroes of the Reformation that produced the Protestant churches and brought many of the older Anabaptist groups out of hiding in opposition to the Catholic Church that we will not have time to go into the kind of detail that would do them justice here. However, Luther, like Erasmus and Calvin, deserves some special consideration.
*(An indulgence was granted as a remission of punishment for a sin that had been forgiven. This was usually accomplished by paying money. The problem lies with the Catholic idea that a priest can forgive sin. Just imagine if you believed that you didn’t need to go to God through Jesus Christ to ask Him to forgive you but required your Pastor as an intermediary in spite of 1 Timothy 2:5 and imagine again that he charged you a handsome fee for that kindness.)
The German Catholic, Martin Luther, was born to an anti-clerical father and a pious mother. Durant says he grew up in a strict home characterized by “religious terror”. In 1501 he was sent to the university at Erfurt in Germany. This university had been influenced by a theologian named Ockham who believed that Popes and Priests were capable of error. In 1505 he received his Master of Arts degree. At first he thought to study law but then suddenly, at the age of 22, he entered a monastery of the Augustinian Eremites who followed a faithful observance of monastic rules. He fasted, scourged himself, froze in his unheated cubicle, and did all of the things life in a strict monastery required of him that were not required in the Bible. In 1507, he was ordained a priest.
At some point he read a treatise of Jan (John) Huss, that follower of Wycliffe from Bohemia, and he was bothered by the fact that Huss was martyred for his solid, doctrinally correct beliefs. He began reading the Bible and the writings of Augustine more carefully and he was presented with a Latin Bible. In 1508 or 1509 he was struck by Romans 1:17, a quote by Paul of Habakkuk 2:4. The word, “justified”, became a focal point of his studies and his faith. He began to believe firmly in salvation by faith. In 1508 he became professor of theology at Wittenberg. Being an outstanding monk he was sent to Rome on a mission for his order in 1510. He was uninspired by the Renaissance art of Michelangelo and Raphael and disgusted by the worldliness of the clergy in Rome.
Returning to his school he rapidly rose to be vicar-general of his order and preached regular sermons. Slowly, his beliefs moved away from the official doctrines of the Church, so much so that by 1515 he was criticizing the worldly corruption of the clergy. In 1516 he was also identifying the Pope with the anti-Christ of the first letter of John. In July 1517, he preached a
famous sermon that stated that just believing on Christ assured the believer’s salvation. Three months later he posted the 95 theses. A furor that was aroused by them didn’t seem to bother the locals. The local bishop just told him to hold off writing any more on the subject for awhile until things quieted down. However, the theses became the talk of literate Germany. Many had been waiting for just such a protest. The monk, Tetzel’s, reply was burnt in the square at Wittenburg. Luther responded with a sermon on the subject. Luther eventually sent a response to Pope Leo X, who summoned Luther to Rome. He, knowing that this might mean his death, appealed to his German prince for protection. The Emperor Maximilian, seeing Luther as a card to play against the power of the Pope, ordered him taken good care of. The Emperor wanted to reject the call from the Pope to tax Germany to raise money for a Crusade against the Turks. Leo backed down and ordered Luther to appear before a Cardinal and recant his beliefs and be forgiven. Luther refused to recant. Leo backed down again and tried to reform the Church a bit. Germany was becoming hostile to the “Holy See”. Luther still claimed allegiance to the Pope in spite of his views on 1 John.
At some point, Luther obtained a supporter in a man who was given the Greek name, Melanchthon. Luther challenged the Church’s dogma that it was the original Christian church and stated that other churches in the beginning had equal authority with the bishop of Rome. Eventually, Leo had to condemn Luther but the cat was out of the bag, so to speak, and a revolution was taking place in Germany, a Protestant revolution. In an attempt to quell the German revolt against Rome, the new emperor, Charles V of Spain, the land of the Inquisition, summoned Luther to the Diet (Assembly) at Worms in 1521. The forces that made the Reformation happen came to a head at this important point in the beginning of the Reformation. The German nobles applauded Luther’s assault on the Church. Luther shook up the Emperor by appealing only to the authority of the word of God. Charles V affirmed the support of Leo X over Francis I of France by condemning Luther as a heretic for acknowledging only the authority of Scripture (plus his 800,000 florins which he paid for his office if you remember).
The secular minded Durant tells us that Luther’s supreme achievement as a writer was his translation of the Bible into German, rejecting the errors of Jerome’s Vulgate, using Erasmus’ Greek New Testament which he believed to be superior. With the help of the work of Melanchthon and several Jewish scholars he published an Old Testament, as well. Creating a true Bible in German helped to establish the modern German language. Retaining some Catholic beliefs like infant baptism, he still drove the Reformation forward. It was a social as well as a theological revolution, changing forever the relationships between subject and prince, in so much that Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s main apologist would later say begrudgingly of the King James Bible, based on similar manuscript traditions as Luther’s German Bible, that it was the poor man’s Magna Carta. Everyone had immediate access to God through Jesus Christ, not just the clergy or the nobility. This is a revolutionary concept in a previously Roman Catholic culture.
Luther died in 1546 after experiencing chest pains, possibly of a heart attack, according to some sources.
Luther became virulently anti-Semitic after Jews failed to convert to Christ upon reading his works. A pamphlet of his was cited by the Nazis in their persecution later, although it was the work of Pope Pius XII, as Eugenio Pacelli, the Papal Nuncio, that let Hitler come to power, as we shall see. Still, when regarding Luther or any Christian celebrity, remember that we all still have our old fleshly nature to contend with and none of us are exempt from error. Look at the whole of Luther’s life and writings, not just his temper tantrum at the Jews. The main point is to follow Luther’s basic premise; that the Bible is our final authority in all matters of faith, practice, and doctrine, not the opinions of Luther, or Billy Graham, or even your favorite Pastor. Remember Luther’s theme of sola fide (by faith alone) and sola scriptura (by scripture alone) as a guide for understanding the difference between his beliefs and mainstream Christianity of the time.
Ulrich Zwingli was the leader of the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland and founder of the Swiss Reformed Churches. Like many Protestant reformers he believed in the confluence of church and state and used this power to mercilessly persecute and kill Anabaptist groups that resisted the power of the state as an enforcer of religious dogma. He also believed that man could annul God’s covenant of grace for salvation by his behavior. He believed in a religion of faith and works. Eventually, he was killed in battle with Catholic forces in 1531.
John Calvin was actually a French Protestant reformer whose French name was Jean Cauvin. He was a child when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses but grew up to be one of the most influential religious leaders in history. Ruling his church-state union from Geneva, Switzerland from 1536 to his death in 1564 with the exception of a period of about 3 years, he wrote a great many commentaries and opinions on the Bible and religion. His most famous work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, are so important that his most noted enemy, Jacob Arminius, insisted that every Christian read and study them. Calvin took the writings and opinions of his mentor, Augustine, the great Catholic thinker of the post-Nicene period of Christianity, and took them as far as he could. He was a firm believer that before the world began God didn’t actually just foreknow who would receive His Son but He actually chose who would receive salvation and only those people would be saved. The foundation of his philosophy is commonly represented by an acronym called T-U-L-I-P. T stands for the Total Depravity of man which is something that early Christians would have agreed with as it is a foundational principle of the Bible and in direct contradiction to the Humanism of the Renaissance. U stands for Uncondi-tional Election as in God chooses people unconditionally and not on the basis of their own merit. L stands for Limited Atonement which says that Jesus only died for the elect whom God chose. I stands for Irresistible Grace meaning that whom God chose to save He will save. P stands for the Perseverance of the Saints in that those whom God has chosen will be saved and even if they fall
away for a time they will return to the faith. Calvinism, as it is called, is the basis for the theology of the Reformation or Reformed Theology. Although differing sharply with what the early Christians believed and the various Anabaptist (Re-baptizers) Groups throughout history this has been the basis for much of Protestant theology since then. One of the most important Calvinist authors of modern times is Arthur Pink whose The Sovereignty of God is in the Manchester Baptist Church library. One of the most noted critics of Calvin of our time is Dr. Laurence Vance whose work The Other Side of Calvinism is remarkably thorough. Both books are available in the Manchester Baptist Church library.
Calvin believed, in contradiction to the early church, that man had no free will and that man’s lack of free will to choose God or not was a direct result of his fallen state. He quotes Chrysostom to explain the “error” of the early Christians in Book 2, chapter 2 of his “Institutes” and says;
“Chrysostom says, "God having placed good and evil in our power, has given us full freedom of choice; he does not keep back the unwilling, but embraces the willing," (Homil. de Prodit. Judae.) “ and then goes on to say that all of the early church fathers were wrong except for Augustine. Calvin was definitely an Augustinian in form and thought and firmly believed that man has no free will with regard to choosing God or not. Institutes of the Christian Religion like Augustine’s City of God are must reads for Christians. I am not debating here the merits or errors of any of the reformers, simply reporting what I have found.
Most of the Protestant churches of the Reformation believed in infant baptism, some form of Calvinism, and a state that would enforce the rules concerning both. Calvin, in particular, has been accused of having the Unitarian (denier of the Trinity), Servetus, burnt at the stake along with 24 witches.
Moving on, Robert Stephanus produced a Greek New Testament in 1550 after Erasmus, Theodore Beza carried it into the next generation in 1565.
In England Ralph Allerton was burned at the stake in 1557 and because he had no ink in prison he wrote in his own blood stating, according to Foxe, that he believed the scripture to be true and would rather give his life than to deny any part. In 1556 John Cavel was burnt at the stake for arguing against a Preacher who said the Bible was in error. What was the state of the Reformation in England?
Henry VIII of England broke with the Catholic church over the Pope’s refusal to grant him a divorce in his efforts to marry a woman who would produce him a male heir. In spite of that break and the creation of the Anglican Church, a sort of Rome with the King of England at its head just as the Pope is the head of the Catholic Church, not much doctrine changed. According to Carolly Erickson’s book Great Harry about his life the Anglican Church rejected Lutheranism
and copied many of the tenets of the Catholic Church for itself, hanging those who disagreed. The “High Church” Anglicans were constantly at odds with the more austere and fundamentalist Puritans, who wanted all vestiges of Catholic religion and practice removed from the English Church. Anabaptists fleeing the continent were considered to be anarchists and a danger to the social order.
William Tyndale, who is credited with “Englishing the Greek New Testament” according to David Danell in Tyndale’s New Testament, is reported to have said before he was strangled and burnt at the stake in 1536, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!”. Henry VIII vacillated between burning Christians as heretics for reading the Bible and encouraging its distribution. Miles Coverdale created the first complete PRINTED English Bible in 1535. The many English versions of the Bible previous were handwritten. John Rogers gave us the Thomas Matthew’s Bible in 1537 based on Coverdale’s and Tyndale’s work, using the pseudonym to keep from being burnt at the stake. Coverdale was then asked to produce a Bible by Henry VIII’s Anglican Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell without the anti-Catholic notes of the Matthew’s Bible and it was called the Great Bible, being the first authorized by the King of England to be used in churches. The Geneva Bible, which was highly Puritan and Calvinistic, was the Bible that went with the Pilgrims to America and was used by Puritans until it was supplanted by the King James Bible aka Authorized Version. It was highly critical in its marginal notes of Kings and Princes and was not liked by those in authority because of its Puritanical leaning.
The Bishop’s Bible , in 1568, was the High Church response to the Calvinism and Puritanism of the Geneva Bible.
Then, a Bible translation was created that did what Luther’s German Bible had done for the German language, helping to create modern English and influencing three hundred years of Christian life in the countries that spoke English. I am going to rely on the secular histories by Olga Opfell The King James Bible Translators and the bestselling God’s Secretaries by Adam Nicholson a great deal as well as the 1858 work The Translator’s Revived by Alexander McClure for my information on this subject.
In 1603, the great English monarch and staunch Protestant who oversaw England during the time of Walter Raleigh’s and Francis Drake’s explorations and the defeat of the Spanish Armada, Queen Elizabeth I, lay dying. She was to be replaced by James Stuart of Scotland, having been king of that country since he was 1 year old. Both of James’ parents had Tudor genes, the family of Elizabeth, but until 1586 she had not hinted that she would choose him to be her heir.
This king is known by history as a man of contradictions. He has been called the Solomon of his time, the first English King with the English derivation of the Hebrew name, Jacob, hence the appellation for his era of Jacobean. He could read Latin and Greek and Hebrew and other languages and at a young age, himself, translated sacred writings between various languages although he had no hand in the translation process of the Bible that bears his name. He has been also called “God’s silly vassal”. He was credited by some historians as being the first English King to use the term Great Britain. He was also condemned by the Puritans for playing tennis on Sunday. He made peace with the long standing enemy, Spain. He also was accused of being a homosexual 25 years after his death by someone he had removed from his court named Weldon, although this accusation was proven to be a lie by British historian, Lady Antonia Fraser. Under his watch the colony of Jamestown was created but also under his watch many Puritans were kicked out of England. Finally, under his watch and with his approval the greatest translation of the Bible in any language in any time was executed. King James VI of Scotland who united the British crown as King James I of England was an all too human king who left a mark on the English speaking world that is still felt today, 400 years later as many Christians still believe that the Authorized Version of the Bible is the word of God in English, an inspired translation, or the words of God that He wants us to have in English. Others disagree and don’t like the translation at all, taking every opportunity they can to condemn it.
In 1603 he called for a meeting at Hampton Court which was actually held in January, 1604, to discuss conflicts in the Anglican Church between the High Church Anglican bishops and the Puritans. The Puritans were separatists who desired to restore the church of the New Testament and overthrow any Catholic leanings in the Church of England. They were constantly at war with the mainstream Anglicans. At the conference, one of their leaders, Dr. John Reynolds, suggested that what was needed was a new translation of the Bible that was not so prejudiced on favor of the “big church” people. James, surprisingly because he hated Puritans, agreed, but put the Anglicans in charge of the project. James believed in the “divine right of kings” and disliked the anti-authoritarian marginal notes of the popular Geneva Bible. The project was divided into six companies at various universities who would handle the translating. They were to use the Bishop’s Bible and not deviate unless necessary. This didn’t happen. What they did was to ignore it and many scholars say they stayed 95% with Tyndale’s New Testament.
Once one part of the translation was finished it would pass to the other companies who would have to approve it and then on to the final editors who would decide all controversies. In this manner, some scholars I read insisted that each verse had to pass 14 approvals before being permitted in the final draft. The translators had every vernacular Bible in every language available in front of them, over a thousand manuscripts, the works of Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza, plus the Old Latin, Jerome’s Vulgate, and scores of secular Greek manuscripts. For the Hebrew they used the traditional text of the Hebrew Masoretes, called the Second Great
Rabbinic Bible of Jacob Ben Chayim, from the famed Bomberg Publishing House. By the time they were through they even passed their work to scholars who weren’t on their committees for their suggestions, so much so, that the famed Bishop Ussher was asked to return the part of the Bible he was reviewing in Ireland so that they could finish their work. It still took 7 years to complete, not being published until 1611.
The translators were the most brilliant minds of their age. To give you an example of their accomplishments I will briefly discuss one of the men in charge of the translation, Lancelot Andrews. He was called the “star of preachers” in his day. He was able to speak over a dozen languages and on his vacations from preaching would master a language and so learned all of the major languages of Europe plus those of the Middle East. He was so brilliant and, like the other translators chosen, the best of the best, that Nicolson says; “It is because people like Lancelot Andrewes flourished in the first decade of the seventeenth century – and do not now – that the greatest translation of the Bible could be made then, and cannot now.” He goes on to say that the King James Bible was the greatest creation of the 17th century. Nicolson also states that “Vast quantities of linguistic scholarship and skill were to be assembled on this project, with scholars more than capable of teasing nuance and subtle meaning from Hebrew, Greek, and even Aramaic scripts.” Olga Opfell states that. “Altogether, the King James Bible was destined to be the product of the best and most careful scholarship of its age.”
There were experts in Arabic on the committees, expert in Architecture for the sake of understanding the Tabernacle and the Temple, experts in every field that would have some impact on studying the Bible. Opfell and Ward Allen in his The Coming of the King James Gospels and his compilation of translator John Bois’ notes in Translating for King James talk about some of the resources the translators used. This was to be, and still is, the most thorough and complete translation of the Bible using the Byzantine texts of Syria and the Bibles based on it and the Hebrew of the Masoretes. Every Bible after its translation, of importance, and there have been over 200 since then, has given precedence to the Alexandrian text type and the manuscripts from Egypt and a Greek translation of the Old Testament made by Origen in the 3rd century containing books rejected as canon by the Jews.
Of course, these points will be argued against by those who favor of the Alexandrian texts. It will be pointed out that the King James translators did translate the Apocrypha, even though they placed them in between the Testaments as worthy of historical study but not inspired literature. Later editors removed them completely.
The beliefs and attitudes of the translators can be surmised from their letter to the reader and dedicatory to King James, conspicuously absent from modern issues of the King James Bible. They viewed the Bible as being the very words of God and regarded its handling to be a sacred task. Compare this to Bible translator, Philip Schaff, of modern times, who, in translating the
American Standard Version (ASV), parent of the New American Standard Version (NASV), would not accept translators who believed the Bible was inspired by God according to his son, David, in the biography written about him.
The King James translators humbly deny that their translation is superior to any other. They did not claim inspiration, but neither did Matthew or Mark. Modern apologists insist that the version is the preservation of God’s word and most do not claim it is an inspired translation. The appellation of Authorized Version was not applied until later due to this Bible replacing all others as the standard English Bible. Although King James did authorize it to be read in the churches it was not the only Bible in circulation. Just as later, the Greek text it was based on, called the Textus Receptus, or Received Text, was given its name by common usage of the term, so did this Bible become known as the Authorized Version until the 20th century advertising campaigns of other Bibles began referring to it as the KJV or KJB giving it the same three letter distinction as its competition.
With printing being a bulky, tedious task there were several editions containing printing errors which had to be corrected. Spelling wasn’t standardized until the mid-1700’s and the King James Bible used today is different in that regard to the non-standardized spelling of 1611.
The King James Bible uses many grammatical techniques to make itself understandable and even so called archaic words can be defined for the modern reader by understanding these methods of parallel phrasing, word markers, hendiadys, and others. It is self-defining and contains within it its own dictionary and lexicon without even consulting an outside, non-inspired, source. With nearly a billion King James Bibles having been printed it helped create our language and you can’t help but quote it with phrases like “making a difference” and “escaped with the skin of my teeth” being direct references, as well as many others, in our language.
An interesting comment was made by William Phelps, Lampson Professor of English literature at Yale, in his 1923 work, Human Nature and the Bible which is worthy of note;
“We Anglo-Saxons have a better Bible than the French or the Germans or the Italians or the Spanish; our English translation is even better than the original Hebrew and Greek. There is only one way to explain this; I have no theory to account for the so-called "inspiration of the Bible," but I am confident that the Authorised Version was inspired.
Now as the English-speaking people have the best Bible in the world, and as it is the most beautiful monument ever erected with the English alphabet, we ought to make the most of it, for it is an incomparably rich inheritance, free to all who can read. This means that we ought invariably in the church and on public occasions to use the Authorised Version; all others are inferior. And, except for special purposes, it should be used exclusively in private reading. Why make constant companions of the second best, when the best is available?”
The translators of the King James Bible were not perfect men by the standards of American ideals and that is not the basis on which their work is valued. They all believed in a church-state alliance where the state was the enforcement arm of the church and where the head of the state was also the human head of the church. Even Lancelot Andrews had been involved in the persecution of the Puritan sect and the Puritans themselves, when they held power in America, persecuted others who did not agree with them. But, we value a thing called Freedom of Conscience here, as no other country on earth or in history has done and it is the foundation of our Freedom of Religion.
The Roman Catholic Church did not take long to react to the Reformation that was sweeping Northern Europe with a Counter-Reformation. One of the important figures in this effort was a Basque named Inigo de Loyola, whose name has come down to us as Ignatius Loyola. There are several universities named after him and he is the founder of the so-called Society of Jesus, which we know as The Jesuits. Taking from Malachi Martin’s The Jesuits and Edmond Paris’ The Secret History of the Jesuits as well as Durant’s work we find him born in 1491 just as the new era was approaching that would overturn the dominant old ways of thinking in Europe and the Reformation’s beginning. Injured in battle, he became the founder of a movement that would be fiercely loyal to the Pope and to combating the effects of the Reformation. He developed a series of “spiritual exercises” designed to strengthen his disciples in their purpose. His disciples became so influential in the Roman Catholic countries that their influence as the confessors of kings and queens far outshone their numbers and created havoc among the heads of state. They also became influential in all aspects of scientific study and missionary work for the Catholic Church. Their efforts at sabotaging the Reformation and their espionage in the Protestant countries became so much a factor that there is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, a word to describe deception, lying, and intrigue called ‘jesuitry’.
The power of the Jesuit order was so feared that one of our founding fathers and first presidents reportedly had this to say about them;
“I do not like the reappearance of the Jesuits.... Shall we not have regular swarms of them here, in as many disguises as only a king of the gipsies can assume, dressed as printers, publishers, writers and schoolmasters? If ever there was a body of men who merited damnation on earth and in Hell, it is this society of Loyola's. Nevertheless, we are compelled by our system of religious toleration to offer them an asylum.”-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 5, 1816
Other quotes concerning the Jesuits that I have found include these two;
"The Jesuits direct all the affairs, and shape all the principles of the papal church in the United States. These are startling facts. Though we have long known them - we are shocked at the contemplation of those approaching evils, which this new proof brings so clearly before our minds. yes, we repeat it; the nation cannot avoid the most dreadful calamities - from this fatal and corrupt society, unless prompt and vigorous measures can be taken to deliver it from the impending curse. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) is the enemy of man. The whole human race should unite for its overthrow. Earth and heaven should rejoice together over its tomb. For there is no alternative between its total extirpation, and the absolute corruption and degradation of mankind."
- Robert J. Breckinridge1841, American Presbyterian PastorPapism in the XIX Century.
"The Jesuits rapidly spread themselves over Europe, and wherever they went, there followed a revival of popery. To give them greater power, a bull was issued reestablishing the inquisition...and atrocities too terrible to bear the light of day were repeated in its secret dungeons. Such were the means which Rome had invoked to quench the light of the Reformation, to withdraw from men the Bible, and to restore the ignorance and superstition of the Dar Ages."
- Ellen G. White 1888Founder, Seventh-day Adventist ChurchThe Great Controversy pp.234-236
One of the practices of the Jesuits was to infiltrate Protestant universities and schools, posing as Protestants all the while subtly changing the teachings to be more favorable to the Catholic Church and to the Pope in particular and calling into question core Protestant beliefs. As I have stated before, the idea of a Protestant theologian graduating from a Jesuit university should give one pause, at the very least, and anything he says against the Bible should be looked at very skeptically. The Jesuits particularly hated the Authorized Version of the Bible as the translators, in their dedicatory to King James referred to the Pope as the “man of sin”. It was a common Protestant and Anabaptist view that the Papacy itself was the anti-Christ.
The Roman Catholic Church was so horrified at the success of the Reformation that a special council was called to answer its alleged heresies and this Council of Trent is still claimed to be a valid of the Roman Church’s position today.
Mel Gibson, producer of The Passion of the Christ, says that he accepts the Council of Trent as an authoritative statement of Catholic doctrine. In January 1996, Pope John Paul IIcommem- orated the 450th anniversary of the opening of the Council of Trent by visiting Trento, Italy,
and affirming that Trent's declarations “maintain all their value.”
The Council of Trent was conducted by four different popes (Paul III, Julius III, Paul IV, Pius IV) between the years 1545 to 1565, and had the two-fold goal of bringing reform to Catholicism and condemning and hindering the growth of Protestantism. A series of anathamas were issued against Protestant doctrine. The Index of Prohibited Books was set up, condemning authors and writings which were deemed anti-Catholic. During the era of Trent, the barbarous Inquisition was further unleashed against those who dared to reject Roman heresies.In 1564 the doctrines of Trent were summarized in a papal bull entitled The Tridentine Profession of Faith. Dr. Raymond Surburg notes that “all Roman Catholic clergy and teachers must subscribe to it as well as converts to the faith from Protestantism. The person subscribing to it must swear true obedience to the Pope” (The Christian News, July 10, 1995, p. 6).An official statement of the doctrines approved at Trent were issued in 1566 in the Roman Catechism.The Council of Trent denied every Reformation doctrine, including Scripture alone and grace alone. Trent hurled 125 anathemas (eternal damnation) against Bible-believing Christians, including these:
“If any one shall deny that the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore entire Christ, are truly, really, and substantially contained in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist; and shall say that He is only in it as a sign, or in a figure, or virtually--let him be accursed” (Canon 1).“If any one shall say that the substance of the bread and wine remains in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, together with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and shall deny that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood, the outward forms of the bread and wine still remaining, which conversion the Catholic Church most aptly calls transubstantiation--let him be accursed” (Canon 2).“If any man shall say that Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is not to be adored in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, even with the open worship of latria, and therefore not to be venerated with any peculiar festal celebrity, nor to be solemnly carried about in processions
according to the praiseworthy, and universal rites and customs of the holy Church, and that he is not to be publicly set before the people to be adored, and that his adorers are idolaters--let him be accursed” (Canon 6).“If anyone shall say that the ungodly man is justified by faith only so as to understand that nothing else is required that may cooperate to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is in no wise necessary for him to be prepared and disposed by the motion of his own will ... let him be accursed” (Canon 9).“If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified ... let him be accursed” (Canon 12).
Pope Pius IV (1559-1565) issued a summary of the decisions of the council under the title Pope Pius's Creed. I will quote part of this creed, which has ever since been regarded as an authoritative summary of the Catholic faith:
“I profess also, that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the new law ... namely, baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders, and matrimony, and that they confer grace.“I profess likewise, that in the mass is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that, in the most holy sacrifice of the Eucharist, there is truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.“I constantly hold that there is a purgatory, and that the souls detained therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.“Likewise, that the saints reigning together with Christ, are to be honoured and invocated; that they offer prayers to God for us; and that their relics are to be venerated.“I most firmly assert, that the images of Christ, and of the mother of God, ever virgin, and also of the other saints, are to be had and retained; and that one honour and veneration are to be given to them.“I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the church, and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people.
“I acknowledge the holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman church, the mother and mistress of all churches. And I promise to swear true obedience to the Roman bishop, the successor of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles, and vicar of Jesus Christ.“I also profess, and undoubtedly receive all other things delivered, defined, and declared, by the sacred canons and general councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent. And likewise, I also condemn, reject, and anathematize, all things contrary thereto, and all heresies whatsoever condemned, rejected, and anathematized by the church.“This true Catholic faith, out of which none can be saved...” (Miller's Church History, pp. 1081-1082).
These proclamations and anathemas were fleshed out in the murderous persecutions vented upon true Christians by Rome--and Trent has never been annulled. The Vatican II Council in the 1960s referred to Trent dozens of times, quoting Trent's proclamations as authoritative and reaffirming Trent on every hand. At the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII stated, “I do accept entirely all that has been decided and declared at the Council of Trent.” Every Cardinal, Bishop and priest who became a member of the Council also signed that document (Wilson Ewin, You Can Lead Roman Catholics to Christ, Quebec Baptist Mission, 1990 edition, p. 41). The New Catholic Catechism cites Trent no less than 99 times. There is not the slightest hint that the proclamations of the Council of Trent have been abrogated by Rome.Consider a few examples of how Vatican II looked upon Trent:
“The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent [remain] intact...” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, p. 37).“Therefore, the following in the footsteps of the Council of Trent and of Vatican I, this present Council wishes to set forth authentic doctrine of divine revelation” (Constitution on Divine Revelation, p. 678).“[Christ] is substantially present there through that conversion of bread and wine which, as the Council of Trent tells us, is most aptly named transubstantiation” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, p. 110).“For under this form (leaving intact the principles of the Council of Trent, by which under either species or kind there is received the true sacrament and Christ whole and entire), the sign of the eucharistic banquet appears more perfectly” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, p. 124).
“The Roman Missal, promulgated by our predecessor St. Pius V in the Year of our Lord 1570 by decree of the Council of Trent, is universally acknowledged to be among the most useful of the many fruits which that Council brought forth for the good of the Church of Christ” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, p. 138).“When issuing decrees that the Order of the Mass should be revised, the Second Vatican Council ruled, among other things, that certain rites were to be restored to the vigour which they had in the days of the holy Fathers. These are the very words used by St. Pius V in his Apostolic Constitution Quo primum whereby he promulgated the Tridentine Missal of 1570 [Trent]. The employment of the very same words indicates that the two Missals, though separated in time by four centuries, are nevertheless inspired by and embody one and the same tradition. ... In those troubled days St. Pius V was unwilling to make any changes in the rites except minor ones; he was intent on preserving more recent tradition, because at that time attacks were being made on the doctrine that the Mass is a sacrifice present under the eucharistic species” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, p. 155).“In this way the liturgical norms of the Council of Trent have in many respects been fulfilled and perfected by those of the Second Vatican Council” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, p. 159).
“This sacred council accepts loyally the venerable faith of our ancestors in the living communion which exists between us and our brothers who are in the glory of heaven or who are yet being purified after their death; and it proposes again the decrees of the Second Council of Nicea, of the Council of Florence, and of the Council of Trent” (Constitution on the Church, p. 377).“The sacrament of baptism cannot be repeated ... and therefore to baptize again conditionally is not allowed unless there is prudent doubt of the fact, or of the validity, of a baptism already administered (Council of Trent, Session 7, Can. 4)” (Decree on Ecumenism, p. 445).“The Fathers of the Council, continuing the work begun by the Council of Trent, confidently entrust to superiors and professors in seminaries the duty of training Christ's future priests in the spirit of that renewal promoted by the Council itself” (Decree on the Training of Priests, p. 654).
The next great move in the Counter-Reformation was the creation of the so-called science of textual criticism or biblical criticism which, after the King James Bible began to be established as the authoritative and preferred Bible of English speaking people, called into question the authority of the scriptures themselves. It was conjectured by Catholic philosophers like priest Richard Simon (1638-1712) and French Catholic Physician Jean Astruc who, in 1753, attacked the authorship of Moses regarding Genesis. This was followed by a flood of critics of the Bible such as philosophers Hobbes (1651), Pereyre (1655), and Spinoza (1670).
This tactic of criticizing the Bible’s authorship and authority was fully realized in what is called the German Higher Criticism of the 19th century. Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Book 2, deals with this issue very well. The German Higher Criticism movement, an intellectual attempt to harm the position of scriptural authority held by Protestants and Anabaptist groups from Christianity’s early times, was influential in the struggles of famous 19th century preacher R.A. Torrey, who succumbed to it as well as historian and Bible translator, Philip Schaff. Richard Simon was the father of this Biblical criticism, producing his first great work, Histoire critique du Vieux Testament's, in 1678. Unfortunately, there are many Protestant seminaries today that have been infected by this unbelieving way of viewing the Bible as you would any other “old” book and removing its authority in the mind of the common believer. This was a calculated move on the part of the Catholic Church as it is Church doctrine that the tradition of the Church is equal to or superior to that of scripture in authority and the Protestant doctrine of scriptural authority in all matters of faith, practice, and doctrine was condemned by the Council of Trent.
On the practical side of things, the Church did fight back, as well, in a physical, visible way. J.A. Wylie in his History of Protestantism tells of how the 16th and 17th centuries saw wholesale persecutions of the Waldensian Christians in Northern Italy so that many thousands were murdered with mothers and infants being thrown from heights onto rocks and entire village populations being chased into caves and then killed by setting fires at the cave’s mouth, thereby suffocating the occupants.
The Huguenots, French Protestants, who later followed the teachings of the reformer, Calvin, were ordered exterminated in 1536. Twelve hundred were killed in 1562 and this is credited with starting the Wars of Religion in France which ripped apart the country for 30 years. Eight thousand Huguenots were murdered during the St. Bartholomew’s massacre in Paris in 1572 as they assembled to celebrate the wedding of Henry of Navarre, a Huguenot, to Marguerite de Valois, daughter of Catherine de Medici. Henry of Navarre was spared when he supposedly renounced his Huguenot faith. He became King Henry IV of France. When news of the massacre reached Rome, Pope Gregory XIII was said to be ecstatic and even had a special medal struck to commemorate the event. The Edict of Nantes, signed by Henry IV in 1598, ended the Wars of Religion and permitted some freedom temporarily but persecution resumed after his eventual assassination. The edict was revoked under King Louis XIV, and many thousands of French Protestants were burned along with their churches and others tortured to death while still others were forced into slavery. Many Huguenots escaped to America, among other places of refuge.
King Rudolph II of Germany had reneged on a promise not to molest Protestants in his domains. Then, after a riot resulting from a Benedictine abbot’s ordering a Catholic march through a Protestant town near Bavaria, Maximilian of Bavaria occupied the town for the Pope and annexed it to Bavaria. He confiscated the churches and installed Jesuits in them violating the
Treaty of Augsburg. This started what was known as the Thirty Years War between 1618 and 1648 which killed one third of the population of Germany.
In Ireland, in 1641, there was a Catholic massacre of Protestants that numbered the dead in the tens of thousands, one chronicler insists that the dead numbered 150,000, however this is disputed by others, particularly the Catholic Church.
In our next lesson we will study a new onslaught by Satan on God’s word and His people, the successor to the Renaissance, foolishly called The Enlightenment.