The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: Rome’s Counterattacks on Protestant Interpretation

I. Reformation Followed by Catholic Counter Reformation

The Papacy suffered a major setback through the Reformation. The help of the monastic orders was sought, but they were so decadent that they had lost the respect of the people. The Dominicans and Franciscans, peddling relics and indulgences, had become the butt of ridicule and mockery. At this crisis Loyola and his companions offered their services, to go wherever the pope should designate, as preachers, missionaries, teachers, counselors, reformers. A new order was created, authorized in 1540, which infused a new spirit and spread rapidly over Europe. Like a wounded giant, Romanism arose in desperation to re cover her lost prestige and enlarge shrunken territory. PFF2 464.1

From 1540, then, the Counter Reformation may be dated. Within fifty years the Jesuits had planted stations in Peru, Africa, the islands of the East Indies, Hindustan, Japan, and China, and before long in the Canadian forests and the American colonies. Their members secured important chairs in universities. They became counselors and confessors to monarchs, and were the most able of all Catholic preachers. By 1615 they had a membership of thirteen thousand. Thus through the Jesuits the Counter Reformation, next to the Protestant Reformation itself, became the most memorable movement in the history of modern times. 1 PFF2 464.2


The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries therefore present a dual religious aspect-a Protestant and a Papal side. Reformatory action is soon matched by decisive reaction. Through the revival of learning and the invention of printing, the Scriptures were translated, multiplied, and circulated as never before. Prophetic exposition was revived, and made great advances. Interpreters had arisen in groups, like constellations of stars. But the Protestant Reformation was countered by a sharp papal reaction, or Counter Reformation, and the rising tide of spiritual life and liberty was met by a counter wave of Catholic resistance. PFF2 465.1

Against the Confession of Augsburg, Rome erected her Council of Trent, formulating her canons and decrees, and rigorously imposing the Creed of Pius IV. Luther and his followers were matched by Loyola and his Jesuits, and sound prophetic interpretation was attacked through specious counter-interpretations. When the Reformation broke out simultaneously in different countries of the Old World, the Papacy did not at first seem to sense the full significance of what was taking place. Time was required for this to be grasped. And this lull before the gathering storm gave the Reformation opportunity to establish itself before a serious attempt was made to stop it. Then the sixteenth-century Reformation was succeeded by the great papal reaction in the latter half of the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth centuries. PFF2 465.2


This far- flung movement was fivefold. It included: (1) The formal recognition of the order of Jesuits, (2) the actions and decrees of the Council of Trent, (3) the Catholic counter systems of prophetic interpretation, (4) the establishment of the Index, and (5) the widespread revival of persecution. In these the Papacy was revealed in the role of the persecuting Antichrist through actions so glaring as to invite general recognition. 2 Our discussion will center on these five basic factors. PFF2 465.3