Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 3:17 PM
Rome is the whore of Babylon? Why do you use the Catholic Bible against the Catholic Church? Don't you know the history of the Bible?
Catholics wrote the New Testament. They were Catholics, under the leadership of Pope Damasus I, who decided on the Old Testament Canon in the year 382. They were Catholic bishops who decided the canonicity of the New Testament at the Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397 and 405). Catholics declared the Scriptures to be inspired and infallible. St. Jerome, a Catholic, translated the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures into the common language of his time, Latin, giving us the first Bible, the Vulgate. They were Catholics (primarily Irish monks) who carefully preserved and made copies of the Bible during the Dark Ages so that the glorious message of Scripture would be available to Christians. And it was a Catholic, Gutenburg, who used his newly-invented printing press to mass-produce the Bible and make it more widely available for Christians.
Jesus gave the power of Christian authority to Peter (the first pope) and to the apostles (the first bishops) in Matt. 16:15-19 and 18:18. It is therefore the Catholic Church which has the only rightful authority to interpret the Scriptures. All others who do so are in danger of wresting the Scriptures to their own destruction.
Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are the spiritual descendants of Martin Luther, who taught that each indivdual has the "right" to interpret the Scriptures as he sees fit, a teaching which has made Christianity a great scandal to unbelievers, with 30,000 denominations all claiming to have the Truth of God.
Luther has left Protestanism with another dark legacy, also. He was a prolific writer, and some of his writings were very damaging to his cause of rebellion against the God-given authority of the Catholic Church. One of Luthers' writings that almost no Protestant has read is The Mass and the Ordination of Priests. In that writing Luther claims that Satan appeared to him one night and spoke against the Mass, Mary, and the saints, and spoke with approval of Luther's new doctrine of justification by faith alone! That admission alone should be enough to make any Protestant think long and hard about opposing the Catholic Church.
Sincerely, Mike Martin
TCE replies: 19th March, 2003 9.34PM
thank you for your recent communication concerning your objections to our statements that the Roman Catholic church is 'The Whore of Babylon.'What does the history of the Bible reveal?
We regret the time it has taken to consider the points you raised, but we hope the time has been used objectively and assure you that the utmost effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this reply.
You wrote: Rome is the whore of Babylon? Why do you use the Catholic Bible against the Catholic Church? Don't you know the history of the Bible? Catholics wrote the New Testament. They were Catholics, under the leadership of Pope Damasus I, who decided on the Old Testament Canon in the year 382. They were Catholic bishops who decided the canonicity of the New Testament at the Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397 and 405). Catholics declared the Scriptures to be inspired and infallible. St. Jerome, a Catholic, translated the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures into the common language of his time, Latin, giving us the first Bible, the Vulgate. They were Catholics (primarily Irish monks) who carefully preserved and made copies of the Bible during the Dark Ages so that the glorious message of Scripture would be available to Christians. And it was a Catholic, Gutenburg, who used his newly-invented printing press to mass-produce the Bible and make it more widely available for Christians.
TCE: Let us consider the questions you raise:
Do we know the history of the Bible? Does the Bible speak against the Catholic Church? Did Catholics write the New Testament? Did Catholic church councils decide on the canonicity of the Bible? Is it true that 'Catholics (primarily Irish monks) carefully preserved and made copies of the Bible during the Dark Ages so that the glorious message of Scripture would be available to Christians?' Did 'a Catholic, Gutenburg, use his newly-invented printing press to mass-produce the Bible and make it more widely available for Christians? Is it true that we 'are the spiritual descendants of Martin Luther, who taught that each individual has the 'right' to interpret the Scriptures as he sees fit, a teaching which has made Christianity a great scandal to unbelievers, with 30,000 denominations all claiming to have the Truth of God'?
Does the Bible speak against the Catholic Church?
What do the historical facts prove? Clearly, that the Bible was given by God to all mankind, not to an elite group to explain it to others. The psalmist tells us clearly that it is to be a lamp on the path (Psalm 119v105) of all who heed it. Moses was also inspired to proclaim that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8v3) and there is no teaching in the Bible that would cause anyone to pick up this precious, unique, Word to make us believe it can only be interpreted by an elite hierarchy. Psalm 1 speaks of the blessed man who meditates upon God's Word (variously called the law, statutes, judgments, commandments, etc.) day and night. Both men and women and, as far as they are able, children, can read and understand and be blessed by the Word, but we will never find the Papal interpretation which attempts to limit the understanding to only a small, special, class of highly educated experts.
Paul's epistles make it clear that those to whom they were written were expected to understand them. The epistles are not addressed to a bishop or select group of leaders but to all of the Christians at Corinth, Ephesus, etc. Each Christian is given an understanding by the indwelling Holy Spirit of the words which the same Spirit inspired 'holy men of God' to write (2 Peter 1v21).
We read that a 'young man' is expected to 'heed' God's Word (Psalm 119v9) without any hint that it must be explained to him by a rabbi or priest. But what do we find? Both 'Orthodox Judaism' and Roman Catholicism attempt to hide the truth of the incomparable Gospel of Christ from laymen by insisting that their elite leaders are the only ones who can open its mysteries to the rest of the populace. But the truth brought by Christ, quoting Moses, affirmed that man is to feed upon the Bible for his very life (Deuteronomy 8v3; Matthew 4v4). Even Job, one of the earliest believers in Almighty God, considered God's Word 'more than my necessary food' (Job 23v12). We never find true followers of God seeking a hierarchy to explain the meaning of God's Word and, of course, even Job's 'Comforters' who had made their best attempts to explain his predicament were instructed by God to take heed of Job!
Job 42v7-10: And it was so, that, after Jehovah had spoken these words unto Job, Jehovah said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Now therefore, take unto you seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt-offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept, that I deal not with you after your folly; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as Jehovah commanded them: and Jehovah accepted Job. And Jehovah turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: and Jehovah gave Job twice as much as he had before.
Christ declared, 'If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth' (John 8v31,32). He did not make that statement to the twelve apostles, but to common people who had just 'believed on him' (v30). God's Word was made available to all believers to be understood, believed, and obeyed by even the newest converts. This was true when Christ lived on earth and it is also what He expects of us today. While Rome blocks the individual's access to the truth and insists on interpreting Christ's words, He said: 'Come unto Me... I will give you rest' (Matthew 11v28). No one can come directly to Christ, but the Papal cult of Rome has set itself up as the intermediary channel of God's grace necessary for knowing God's truth and for salvation so that she can control what her people believe.
The Bible informs us that the Holy Spirit can convince the world 'of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment' (John 16v8) and can surely teach all those in whom He dwells. John makes it clear that Christians don't have to look to some special class of men for teaching but have an 'anointing [of the Holy Spirit which] teacheth you of all things' (1 John 2v27).
Scripture makes it clear that all Christians are 'led by the Spirit of God' (Romans 8v14) and therefore must be able to understand the Words which the Spirit of God has inspired. Christians 'have received.., the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God' (1 Corinthians 2v12) and there is not the slightest suggestion that we need a group of clergy to interpret the Scriptures for anyone for all Christians 'have the mind of Christ' (v16). While Christ taught that believers 'shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free' (John 8v32), Rome has misinterpreted and twisted the Word of God to try and maintain her hold over her people.
Did the Catholic Church Give Us the Bible?
We know that the Bereans were commended for checking Paul's teachings against the Bible (Acts 17v11), while Rome did not even exist and it is still each individual's responsibility to know God's Word and to test every spiritual leader and their message by it, no matter who he may be. Every cult, whether Catholics from Rome, Mormons from Utah, or Jehovah's Witnesses from Brooklyn, must accept, not check, their Church's teachings.
Catholics decided on the Old Testament Canon?
Gutenberg's lead-cast printing published the first full-length, complete, book - the text of the Vulgate - from a press in Europe in 1455 at Mainz. But, far from making the Bible easily available to Christians, history shows that one of the crimes for which true believers were burnt at the stake in the Spanish Inquisition was the distribution and reading of the Bible. Would genuine followers of Christ really put anyone to death for such a heinous crime? Yet in an Auto de Fe in Seville on December 22, 1560, Julian Hernandez, one of those burned at the stake on that occasion, was declared to be an arch-heretic because:
through his great efforts and incomprehensible stealth he introduced into Spain prohibited books [Bibles and New Testaments] that he brought from far away places [Germany] where they give protection to the ungodly [Protestants].... He firmly believes that God, by means of the Scriptures, communicates to the laity just the same as He communicates to the priest.'
While Rome forbade the common people the Word of God the Reformers risked their lives to ensure that all men and women could have access to a Bible and the first complete English Bible was a translation from the Vulgate, made by Wycliffe.
The early printing-presses, from Lyons to Paris and from Venice and Nuernberg to Cologne and Luebeck, eagerly turned out editions of the entire Bible or parts of it, the vast majority of which, however, gave the Latin text (and were therefore unreadable to most of the laity!). The first printed Latin Bible, which appeared at Mainz without date and in two volumes, belongs before 1455 and bears the name of the Gutenberg Bible from the printer or the Mazarin Bible from the copy which was found in the library of Cardinal Mazarin. Before 1520, no less than 199 printed editions of the entire volume appeared. Of these,156 were Latin,17 German (3 of the German editions being in Low German; the first High German printed Bible appeared in 1466),11 Italian (the first Italian in 1477), 2 Bohemian and one Russian. The first Dutch Bible was also printed in 1477 and Spain produced two editions, a Limousin version at Valencia,1478, and the Complutensian Bible of Cardinal Ximenes,1514-1517, while the first French printing was also in 1478 . Reflecting an even greater degree of persecution wrought through Papal influence on any like-minded printers, we find that England was far behind and her first printed English New Testament did not appear until 1526, although Caxton had setup his printing-press at Westminster in 1477.
A revised text of the Gutenberg Bible was issued in 1592 by Clement VIII with some 3,000 corrections. A question springs to mind: does this make Gutenberg's Bible or the 'revised' version close to the inaccuracy of the Book of Mormon which has ~4,000 errors in the first edition despite it being supposedly produced with divine/angelic protection supplied from its translation via their false prophet, Joseph Smith, to its final printing! Known as the Clementine Edition, the 'revised' version was approved as the authorized edition and its text was declared unalterable. In 1908 a new commission, headed by Aidan Gasquet, was appointed by Pope Pius X to produce a new edition under the auspices of the Benedictine abbey of St. Jerome in Rome. The fact that Rome should ever produce a Bible that compares with the errors of another obvious cult (The Mormons aka 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints') should awaken the most deceived mind to the obvious: we are not talking about divinely inspired/led men when we speak of any cult, whether they hail from Rome or Utah! The whole truth is that the Book of Mormon is a work of extreme fiction that fails every normal test applied to works that claim such high origins, while the Bible that Rome should have printed had every opportunity to be assembled from the most accurate ancient manuscripts in history - thus Papal compilers are without excuse! Thank God that holy Christians have emerged from the Dark Ages of Papal Tyranny and that they have ensured that the full glory of the Word of God is now available to all free men through such works as the King James Version and the New Standard American Bible.
The number of copies of the Bible sent off in a single edition is a matter of conjecture - as is the question concerning the number of copies held by laymen. When Erasmus produced his edition of the Greek New Testament (1516) it was looked upon in some quarters as a dangerous path. Dorpius, one of the Louvain professors, in 1515, anticipated the appearance of the book by remonstrating with Erasmus for his bold project and pronounced the received Vulgate text free "from all mixture of falsehood and mistake." This, he alleged, was evident from its acceptance by the Church in all ages and the use the Fathers had made of it. Another member of the Louvain faculty, Latromus, employed his learning in a pamphlet which maintained that a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew was not necessary for the scholarly study of the Scriptures. In England, Erasmus' New Testament was attacked on a number of grounds by Lee, archbishop of York; and Standish, bishop of St. Asaph, preached a furious sermon in St. Paul's churchyard on Erasmus' temerity in undertaking the issue of such a work. The University of Cologne was especially outraged by Erasmus' attempt and Conrad of Hersbach wrote: 'They have found a language called Greek, at which we must be careful to be on our guard. It is the mother of all heresies. In the hands of many persons I see a book, which they call the New Testament. It is a book full of thorns and poison. As for Hebrew my brethren, it is certain that those who learn it will sooner or later turn Jews.'
But among the men who read Erasmus' text was Martin Luther, and he studied it to settle questions which troubled him. About one of these he asked his friend Spalatin to consult Erasmus, namely the final meaning of the righteousness of the law, which he felt the great scholar had misinterpreted in his annotations on the Romans in the Novum instrumentum. He believed, if Erasmus would read Augustine's works, he would change his mind. Luther preferred Augustine, as he said, with the knowledge of one tongue to Jerome with his knowledge of five.
Down to the very end of its history, the mediaeval Church gave no official encouragement to the circulation of the Bible among the laity. On the contrary, it uniformly set itself against it. In 1199 Innocent III, writing to the diocese of Metz where the Scriptures were being used by heretics, declared that as by the old law, the beast touching the holy mount was to be stoned to death, so simple and uneducated men were not to touch the Bible or venture to preach its doctrines! The article of the Synod of Toulouse,1229, strictly forbidding the Old and New Testaments to the laity either in the original text or in the translation, was not recalled or modified by papal or synodal action. Neither before or after the invention of printing was the Bible a free book. Gerson was quite in line with the utterances of the Church, when he stated, that it was easy to give many reasons why the Scriptures were not to be put into the vulgar tongues except the historical sections and the parts teaching morals. In Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella represented the strict churchly view when, on the eve of the Reformation, they prohibited under severe penalties the translation of the Scriptures and the possession of copies. The positive enactment of the English archbishop, Arundel, at the beginning of the 15th century, forbidding the reading of Wycliffe's English version, was followed by the notorious pronouncement of Archbishop Bertholdt of Mainz against the circulation of the German Bible, at the close of the same century,1485. The position taken by Wycliffe that the Scriptures, as the sole source of authority for creed and life, should be freely circulated found full response in the closing years of the Middle Ages only in the utterances of the single scholar, Erasmus, but he was under suspicion and always ready to submit himself to the judgment of the Church hierarchy. If Wycliffe said, "God's law should be taught in that tongue that is more known, for this wit [wisdom] is God's Word," Erasmus in his Paraclesis uttered the equally bold words:
I utterly dissent from those who are unwilling that the sacred Scriptures should be read by the unlearned translated into their own vulgar tongue, as though the strength of the Christian religion consisted in men's ignorance of it. The counsels of kings are much better kept hidden but Christ wished his mysteries to be published as openly as possible. I wish that even the weakest woman should read the Gospel and the epistles of Paul. And I wish they were translated into all languages, so that they might be read and understood, not only by Scots and Irishmen but also by Turks and Saracens, I long that the husbandman should sing portions of them to himself as he follows the plow, that the weaver should hum them to the tune of his shuttle, that the traveller should beguile with their stories the tedium of his journey.
The utterances of Erasmus aside, the appeals made between 1450-1520 for the circulation of the Scriptures among all classes are very sparse and, in spite of all attempts by Papal Catholic apologists, only a few can be mustered. And yet, the few that we have show that, at least in Germany and the Netherlands, there was a popular hunger for the Bible in the vernacular. Thus, the Preface to the German Bible, issued at Cologne,1480, called upon every Christian to read the Bible with devotion and honest purpose. Though the most learned may not exhaust its wisdom, nevertheless its teachings are clear and uncovered. The learned may read Jerome's Vulgate but the unlearned and simple folk could and should use the Cologne edition which was in good German. The devotional manual, Die Himmelsthuer ('Door of Heaven'; 1513), declared that listening to sermons ought to stir up people to read diligently in the German Bible. In 1505, Jacob Wimpheling spoke of the common people reading both Testaments in their mother-tongue and made this the ground of an appeal to priests not to neglect to read the Word of God themselves.
Such testimonies are more than offset by warnings against the danger attending the popular use of Scriptures. Brant spoke strongly in this vein and so did Geiler of Strassburg, who asserted that putting the Scriptures into the hands of laymen was like putting a knife into the hands of children to cut bread. He added that it "was almost a wicked thing to print the sacred text in German." Archbishop Bertholdt's fulmination against German versions of the Bible and their circulation among the people no doubt expressed the general mind of the hierarchy in Germany and all Europe. In this celebrated edict, the German primate pronounced the German language too barbarous a tongue to reproduce the high thoughts expressed by Greek and Latin writers, writing of the Christian religion. The Scriptures are not to be given to simple and unlearned men and, above all, are not to be put into the hands of women. He spoke of the fools who were using the divine gift of printing to send forth things proscribed to the public and declared, that the printers of the sacred text were moved by the vain love of fame or by greed. In his zeal, the archbishop went so far as to forbid the translation of all works whatsoever, of Greek and Latin authorship, or their sale without the sanction of the doctors of the Universities of Mainz or Erfurt. The punishment for the violation of the edict was excommunication, confiscation of books and a fine of 100 gulden.
The decree was so effective that, after 1488, only four editions of the German Bible appeared until 1522, when Luther issued his New Testament, when the old German translations seemed to be suddenly laid aside. In England, Arundel's inhibition so fully expressed the mind of the nation that for a full century no attempt was made to translate the Bible into English and it was not till after 1530 that the first copy of the English Scriptures was published on English soil. Sir Thomas More, it is true, writing on the threshold of the English Reformation, interpreted Arundel's decree as directed against corrupt translations and sought to make it appear that it was on account of errors that Wycliffe's version had been condemned. He was striving to parry the charge that the Church had withheld the Bible from popular use, but, whatever the interpretation put upon his words may be the fact remains that the English were slow in getting any printed version of their own and that the (English) Catholic party issued none till the close of the 16th century.
The widespread printing of Bibles was clearly a massive contributory cause of the Reformation, for men and women could now read the truth and recognise the horrific falsehoods that Papal Rome had foisted on the innocent and ignorant fro so many centuries! Distinct witness is borne by Tyndale to the unwillingness of the old party to have the Bible in English, in these words: "Some of the papists say it is impossible to translate the Scriptures into English, some that it is not lawful for the layfolk to have it in the mother-tongue, some that it would make them all heretics." After the new views were quite prevalent in England, the English Bible had a hard time in winning the right to be read. Tyndale's version, for the printing of which he found no room in England, was at Wolsey's instance proscribed by Henry VIII and the famous burning (in 1527) in St. Paul's churchyard of all the copies Bishop Tonstall could lay his hands on will always rise up to rebuke those who try to make it appear that the circulation of the Word of God was intended by the Church authorities to be free. Tyndale declared that: "in burning the New Testament, the papists did none other thing than I looked for; no more shall they do if they burn me also." Any fears he may have had were realized in his execution at Vilvorde in 1536. No doubt, the priest represented a large class when he rebuked Tyndale for proposing to translate the Bible in the words: "We were better without God's laws than the pope's." The martyr Hume's body was hung when an English Bible was found on his person. In 1543, the reading of the Scriptures was forbidden in England except to persons of 'quality'.
Scotland joined the English authorities when the Synod of St. Andrews,1529, forbade the importation of Bibles into Scotland. In France, according to the testimony of the famous printer Robert Stephens, who was born in 1503, the doctors of the Sorbonne, in the period when he was a young man, knew about the New Testament only from quotations from Jerome and the Decretals. He declared that he was more than 50 years old before he knew anything about the New Testament. Luther was also a mature man before he saw a copy of the Latin Bible. In 1533, Geneva forbade its citizens to read the Bible in German or French and ordered all translations burnt. The strict 'inquisition of books' would have passed to all countries, if the Papal hierarchy had retained its way. In 1535, Francis I closed the printing-presses and made it a capital offence in France to publish a religious book without authorization from the Sorbonne. The attitude of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, since the Reformation as well as during the Reformation, has been against the free circulation of the Bible. In the 19th century, one pope after another anathematized Bible societies. In Spain, Italy and South America, the punishments visited upon Bible colporteurs and the frequent burning of the Bible itself have been quite in the line of the decrees of Arundel and Bertholdt and the treatment of Bishop Tonstall. It is a fact that Papists can only kick against and which will never be forgotten that, at the time Rome was made the capital of Italy in 1870, a papal law required that copies of the Bible found in the possession of visitors to the papal city be confiscated.
On the other hand, through the agency of the Reformers, the book was made known and offered freely to all classes. What use the Reformers hoped to make of printing for the dissemination of religion and intelligence is tersely and quaintly expressed by the martyrologist, Foxe, in these words:
Either the pope must abolish printing or he must seek a new world to reign over, for else, as the world stands, printing will abolish him. The pope and all the cardinals must understand this, that through the light of printing the world begins now to have eyes to see and heads to judge ... God hath opened the press to preach, whose voice the pope is never able to stop with all the puissance of the triple crown. By printing as by the gift of tongues and as by the singular organ of the Holy Ghost, the doctrine of the Gospel sounds to all nations and countries under heaven and what God reveals to one man, is dispersed to many and what is known to one nation is opened to all.
This is the account of noted historian Philip Schaff (ref. History of the Christian Church, Oak Harbor, WA, 1997) who notes further:
Both Janssen and Abbot Gasquet spend much pains in the attempt to show that the mediaeval Church was not opposed to the circulation of the Bible in popular versions or the Latin Vulgate. The proofs they bring forward must be regarded as strained and insufficient. They ignore entirely the vast mass of testimony on the other side, as, for example, the testimony involved in the popular reception given to the German and English Scriptures when they appeared from the hands of the Reformers and the mass of testimony given by the Reformers on the subject. Gasquet endeavours to break the force of the argument drawn from Arundel's edict, but he has nothing to say of the demand Wycliffe made for the popular dissemination of the Bible, a demand which implied that the Bible was withheld from the people. Dr. Barry who belongs to the same school, in the Cambr. Mod. Hist., I. 640, speaks of "the enormous extent the Bible was read in the 15th century" and that it was not "till we come within sight of the Lutheran troubles that preachers, like Geiler of Kaisersberg, hint their doubts on the expediency of unrestrained Bible-reading in the vernacular." What is to be said of such an exaggeration in view of the fact that the vast majority of Bibles were in Latin, a language which the people could not read, that Geiler died in 1510, seven years before Luther ceased to be a pious Augustinian monk, and that he did very much more than hint doubts! He expressed himself unreservedly against Bible-reading.
The clear and blatant truth about printing is that it was one of the providential preparations for the Reformation and became a mighty lever for Protestantism and modern culture. The books before the Reformation were, for the most part, ponderous and costly folios and quartos in Latin, for limited circulation. The rarity of complete Bibles is shown by the fact that copies in the libraries were secured by a chain against theft while small and portable books and leaflets were printed in the vernacular for the millions (but not by Papal Rome!).
The statistics of the book trade in the sixteenth century reveal an extraordinary increase since Luther: In the year 1513, there appeared only ninety prints in Germany; in 1514, one hundred and six; in 1515, one hundred and forty-five; in 1516, one hundred and five; in 1517, eighty-one. They are mostly little devotional tracts, flying newspapers, official notices, medical prescriptions, stories, and satirical exposures of clerical and monastic corruptions. In 1518 the number rose to one hundred and forty-six; in 1519, to two hundred and fifty-two; in 1520, to five hundred and seventy-one; in 1521, to five hundred and twenty-three; in 1522, to six hundred and seventy-seven; in 1523, to nine hundred and forty-four. Thus the total number of prints in the five years preceding the Reformation amounted only to five hundred and twenty-seven; in the six years after the Reformation, it rose to three thousand one hundred and thirteen. These works are distributed over fifty different cities of Germany. Of all the works printed between 1518 and 1523 no less than six hundred appeared in Wittenberg; the others mostly in Nuernberg, Leipzig, Cologne, Strassburg, Hagenau, Augsburg, Basel, Halberstadt, and Magdeburg. Luther created the book-trade in Northern Germany, and made the little town of Wittenberg one of the principal book-marts, and a successful rival of neighboring Leipzig as long as this remained Catholic. In the year 1523 more than four-fifths of all the books published were on the side of the Reformation, while only about twenty books were decidedly Roman Catholic. Erasmus, hitherto the undisputed monarch in the realm of letters, complained that the people would read and buy no other books than Luther's and he prevailed upon Froben not to publish any more of them: "Here in Basel," he wrote to King Henry VIII., "nobody dares to print a word against Luther, but you may write as much as you please against the pope." Romish authors, as we learn from Cochlaeus and Wizel, could scarcely find a publisher, except at their own expense; and the Leipzig publishers complained that their books were unsaleable.
The strongest impulse was given to the book trade by Luther's German New Testament. Of the first edition, Sept. 22, 1522, five thousand copies were printed and sold before December of the same year, at the high price of one guilder and a half per copy (about twenty-five marks of the present value). Hans Luft printed a hundred thousand copies on his press in Wittenberg. Adam Petri in Basel published seven editions between 1522 and 1525; Thomas Wolf of the same city, five editions between 1523 and 1525. Duke George commanded that all copies should be delivered up at cost, but few were returned. The precious little volume, which contains the wisdom of the whole world, made its way with lightning speed into the palaces of princes, the castles of knights, the convents of monks, the studies of priests, the houses of citizens, the huts of peasants. Mechanics, peasants, and women carried the New Testament in their pockets, and dared to dispute with priests and doctors of theology about the gospel.
Papal Rome, certainly from the days of Leo I, caused books opposing her claims, such as a large number of Manichaean books, to be burnt (446). The popes claimed the right and duty to superintend the religious and moral literature of Christendom and then transferred the right (in the thirteenth century) to the universities, but they found little to do until the art of printing facilitated the publication of books. The Council of Constance condemned the books of Wycliffe (more than 200 years passed from the time that Wycliffe's second English version was issued, 1395, until the historic King James Version was published in 1611) and Hus, and ordered the bishops to burn all the copies they could seize (1415).
The invention of the printing-press (c. 1450) called forth sharper measures in the very city where the inventor, John Gutenberg, lived and died (1400-1467). It gave rise also to the preventive policy of book-censorship which still exists in some despotic countries of Europe. Berthold, Archbishop of Mainz, took the lead in the restriction of the press. He prohibited, Jan. 10, 1486, the sale of all unauthorized German translations of Greek and Latin works, on the plea of the inefficiency of the German language, but with a hostile aim at the German Bible. In the same year Pope Innocent VIII issued a bull against the printers of 'bad books'. The infamous Pope Alexander VI prohibited in 1498, on pain of excommunication, the printing and reading of heretical books and, in a bull of June 1, 1501, which was aimed chiefly against Germany, he subjected all kinds of literary publications to episcopal supervision and censorship, and required the four archbishops of Coeln, Mainz, Trier, and Magdeburg, or their officials, carefully to examine all manuscripts before giving permission to print them. He also ordered that books already printed should be examined, and burnt if they contained any thing contrary to the Catholic religion. This bull forms the basis of all subsequent prohibitions and restrictions of the press by papal, imperial, or other authority.
Leo X, who personally cared more for heathen art than Christian literature, went further, and prohibited, in a bull of March 3, 1515, the publication of any book in Rome without the imprimatur of the magister sacri palatii (the book-censor), and in other states and dioceses without the imprimatur of the bishop or the inquisitor of heretical depravity. Offenders were to be punished by the confiscation and public burning of their books, a fine of one hundred ducats, and excommunication. Archbishop and Elector Albrecht of Mainz was the first, and it seems the only, German prince who gave force to this bull for his own large diocese by a mandate of May 17, 1517, a few months before the outbreak of the Reformation. The papal bull of excommunication, June 15, 1520, consistently ordered the burning of, all the books of Luther." But he laughed it to scorn, and burned in revenge the pope's bull, with all his decretals, Dec. 10, 1520.
Thus, with the freedom of conscience, was born the freedom of the press. But it had to pass through a severe ordeal, even in Protestant countries, and was constantly checked by Roman authorities as far as their power extended. The German Empire, by the Edict of Worms, made itself an ally of the pope against free thought and free press, and continued so until it died of old age in 1806. Fortunately, the weakness of the empire and the want of centralization prevented the execution of the prohibition of Protestant books, except in strictly papal countries, as Bavaria and Austria. But unfortunately, the inadequately 'Reformed' Protestants also, having used the utmost freedom of the press against the Papists, denied it to each other; the Lutherans to the Reformed, and both to the Anabaptists, Schwenkfeldians and Socinians. Protestant princes liked to control the press to protect themselves against popery, or the charges of robbery of church property and other attacks. The Elector John Frederick was as narrow and intolerant as Duke George on the opposite side. But these petty restrictions are nothing compared with the radical and systematic crusade of the Papists against the freedom of the press. King Ferdinand of Austria ordered, July 24, 1528, all printers and sellers of sectarian books to be drowned, and their books to be burnt. The wholesale burning of Protestant books, including Protestant Bibles, was a favorite and very effective measure of the Jesuitical reaction which set in before the middle of the sixteenth century, and was promoted by the political arm, and the internecine wars of the Protestants. Pope Paul IV published in 1557 and 1559 the first official Index Librorum prohibitorum; Pius IV. in 1564, an enlarged edition, generally known as Index Tridentinus, as it was made by order of the Council of Trent. It contains a list of all the books forbidden by Rome, good, bad, and indifferent. This list has been growing ever since in size (1590, 1596, 1607, 1664, 1758, 1819, etc.), but declining in authority, till it has become a feeble anachronism of a once terrible force for evil.
So we see how great the 'crimes' of Rome stretch regarding Bible truth - to actually make the understanding of Biblical truth a crime punishable by death says everything about the Papacy! Although the Bible is no longer banned as overtly as in the past the false priesthood of Rome continue to keep it from the hearts of the people by insisting that only the Church can interpret it.
We also find that contemporary Rome undermines confidence in Scripture by claiming that the Bible is not trustworthy in its pronouncements on history or science, e.g. claiming that the book of Jonah contains a symbolic meaning concerning 'the universality of salvation' and thus denies that a literal prophet named Jonah was swallowed by a literal fish. The early chapters of Genesis are likewise viewed as symbolic, rather than accounts of the actual creation of the world and man, thus leaving the door open for many in Rome to believe in evolution which one of the greatest orthodox Christians of the last century described as: 'the biggest hoax in the world in the last 150 years' (Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Fight of Faith, 1939-1981, p318). We have no doubt that Dr. Lloyd-Jones couldn't lose an argument with any Pope in history, such was his scientific and theological mastery.
Even 'the Rapture' is seen as symbolic by Rome and does not refer to a literal catching up of Christians to heaven, an idea which Catholic leaders call 'a delusion.' The 1964 Instruction of the Biblical Commission declared that the literalist view of the Bible adopted by Fundamentalists 'actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide.' Do you think Papists can see this irony? A church that has contradicted itself historically, factually, theologically and morally - ad infinitum - can talk about others committing 'intellectual suicide'? Truly jaw-dropping stupidity!
Your claim is standard Papist ignorance that goes as far as to think that only Rome can interpret the Bible because it was 'the Church' which gave it to us. Rather like saying that because Paul wrote his epistles we need him to interpret them. The truth is that Rome did not give us the Bible - firstly, and most obviously, not the Old Testament, for there was no Church of any kind in those days, and also not the New Testament for the Roman Catholic Church did not even exist in the days that the inspired writings were preserved by the post-apostolic believers. It is also obvious that if it was not needed to give us the Old Testament then, clearly, it was not needed to give us the New either.
Another favourite question of Catholic apologists is, 'How do you know that Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke or that Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew?' They claim that Roman Catholic tradition contains this information - while ignoring the very uninspired nature of Papal 'traditions'. There is no tradition that proves who wrote Hebrews, Job, Esther, or various Psalms. But it is irrelevant - what matters is that the authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit. As discussed earlier, the inspiration bears witness within readers who are themselves indwelt by the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writing of Scripture.
(Continued on page 280)