Love Under Fire


Rome Meets Bible Religion

But Rome was determined to bring Britain under its rule. In the sixth century, Catholic missionaries worked to convert the heathen Saxons. As the work progressed, the pope's leaders came up against the simple Christians—humble and scriptural in their character, doctrine, and manners. Rome's representatives exhibited the superstition, pomp, and arrogance of the papal system. Rome demanded that these Christian churches acknowledge the pope as their ruler. The Britons replied that the pope was not entitled to supremacy in the church, and they could give him only the submission that is due to every follower of Christ. They knew no other master than Christ. LF 30.5

Now the true spirit of the papacy was revealed. The leader from Rome said, “If you will not receive brethren who bring you peace, you will receive enemies who will bring you war.”1 Rome used war and deception against these witnesses for Bible faith, until the churches of Britain were destroyed or forced to submit to the pope. LF 31.1

In lands beyond the rule of Rome, Christian groups remained almost entirely free from papal corruption for centuries. They continued to take the Bible as their only rule of faith. These Christians believed in the permanence of the law of God and observed the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Churches that held to this faith and practice existed in Central Africa and among the Armenians of Asia. LF 31.2

Of all who resisted the papal power during that time, the Waldenses are the most significant. In the very land where the papal system had established its headquarters, the churches of Piedmont kept their independence. But the time came when Rome insisted that they submit. Some, however, refused to yield to pope or bishop and were determined to preserve the purity and simplicity of their faith. A separation took place. Those who held to the ancient faith now left their homes. Some, leaving behind their native Alps, raised the banner of truth in foreign lands. Others retreated to the rocky strongholds of the mountains and there preserved their freedom to worship God. LF 31.3

Their religious belief was established on the written Word of God. Those humble peasants, shut away from the world, had not arrived at truth all by themselves in opposition to the teachings of the apostate church. They had inherited their religious belief from their ancestors. In conflict, they upheld the faith of the apostolic church. “The church in the wilderness,” and not the proud hierarchy on the throne in the world's great capital, was the true church of Christ, the guardian of the treasures of truth that God committed to His people to give to the world. LF 31.4

Among the main reasons leading the true church to separate from Rome was Rome's hatred toward the Bible Sabbath. As prophecy had foretold, the papal power trampled the law of God in the dust. Churches under the papacy were forced to honor Sunday. Surrounded by widespread error, many of the true people of God became so bewildered that while they observed the Sabbath, they also did no work on Sunday. But this did not satisfy the papal leaders. They demanded that the people must trample on the Sabbath, and they denounced those who dared to honor it. LF 31.5

Hundreds of years before the Reformation the Waldenses had the Bible in their native language. This made them the special focus of persecution. They declared that Rome was the apostate Babylon of the book of Revelation. At the risk of their lives they stood up to resist her corruptions. Through ages of apostasy there were Waldenses who denied Rome's supremacy, rejected image worship as idolatry, and kept the true Sabbath (see Appendix). LF 31.6

Behind the high walls of the mountains the Waldenses found a hiding place. Those faithful exiles pointed their children to the heights towering above them in majesty and spoke of Him whose word endures like the everlasting hills. God had set the mountains securely in place. No arm but God's could move them. In the same way He had established His law. Human power could just as likely uproot the mountains and hurl them into the sea as change one command of God's law. Those pilgrims did not complain because their lives were hard. They were never lonely in the mountains’ isolation. They rejoiced in their freedom to worship. From many a high cliff they chanted praise, and the armies of Rome could not silence their songs of thanksgiving. LF 32.1