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A Handbook of Church History
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A Handbook of Church History
Dean C Blackwell   
Church of God

Died: April 14, 2003
Member Since: 1952
Ambassador College: 1956
Office: ACE - Evangelist

Chapter V - Series: 3:

Dress, Names of Elders

Quoting again from Jones:

   Their elders and officers do not appear distinguished from their brethren by dress or names.
   No reverends! No Rabbis, Holy fathers! They don't have a collar turned backward.
   Every Christian was considered capable in a certain measure, of instructing others, and of confirming the brethren by exhortation.
   Notice that! The Bible says in Hebrews 10, exhort each other and more as you see the day approaching.
   Their elders were the seniors of the brethren, while the presbyters were the whole body of the teachers, whether fixed or itinerate. Their rules of practice were by literal interpretation of Christ's Sermon on the Mount.
   They took what Christ said in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 literally. If He said, 'Swear not at all,' they thought He meant it. If He said, 'When you fast,' they thought He meant it.

What is the Church?

   "These people contended that the church was an assembly of believers." The church isn't a building! We are the church. We don't come to church, we are the church. This is just a building.
   Of such a church the Lord Jesus Christ is head, and He alone.
   It is governed by His word, and guided by the Holy Spirit.
   You see, the Holy Spirit guides, the Bible governs. There's a lot of difference. You don't govern truth by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says try the spirits. It doesn't say use the spirits to try doctrines, does it? Isaiah says: To the law and to the prophets. If they speak not according to these it is because there is no light in them. It tells you in Deuteronomy 13, if someone comes in a dream or a vision, check up on it in the Bible. That's the test! The church is governed by God's word. But it is guided by the Holy Spirit.
   It behooves all Christians to walk in fellowship. You can't make it by yourself. You need to assemble, visit, write, and spend time with brethren.
   The only ordinances Christ has appointed for the churches are baptism and the Lord's Supper and they are both symbolical ordinances.
   Symbolical! There is no real body of Christ in the Lord's Supper! You don't really wash away your nature in the pool of baptism. They are symbolical ordinances!
   "Believers are the proper participants of them."
   Only believers can be baptized. Only believers can take the Lord's Supper. Well, did they believe in open communion or closed communion? Closed communion, be it ever so unpopular!

Sabbath Keepers

   Jones says: Investigators made a report to Louis XII, king of France that they had visited all the parishes where the Waldenses dwelt. They had inspected all their places of worship...,but they found no images, they found no sign of the ordinances belonging to the mass, nor any of the sacraments of the Roman church, much less could they find traces of those crimes with which they were charged.
   On the contrary they kept the Sabbath. This testimony is from the investigators sent over by Louis XII, king of France. Do you think they were prejudiced? Do you think they want to write about Sabbath keepers? Do you think they have an axe to grind, to claim that the Waldenses were Sabbath keepers? And yet, here it is, quoting right out of their own records of the country of France:
   They kept the Sabbath day, they observed the ordinance of baptism according to the primitive church, instructed their children in the articles of the Christian faith and the commandments of God.

Refuse Adultery

   Jones then quotes from Voltaire's General History, [certainly an unprejudiced source].
   Whosoever refused to curse, to swear, to lie, to kill, to commit adultery, to steal, to be avenged of his enemy, they say he is a Vaudois and therefore, they put him to death.
   This man had no reason to write such about the Waldenses. He was just writing a general history about the period of time.
   Can groups who trace their history back through the Waldenses claim to live by these standards?

Avoid Extremes in Dress

Again, Jones says:

   An ancient inquisitor, to whose writings against the Waldenses I had occasion to refer to in the former section, says: 'These heretics are known by their manners and conversation, because they are orderly and modest in their behaviour and deportment. They neither indulge in finery of attire nor are they remarkable for being mean and ragged. They avoid commerce that they may be free from deceit and falsehood. They get their livelihood by manual industry, as day laborers and mechanics, and their teachers are weavers and tailors. They are not anxious about amassing riches, but they content themselves with the necessities of life. They are chaste, temperate and sober. They abstain from anger; even when they work, they either learn or teach.

Nature of the Woman

   In like manner also the women are modest, avoiding backbiting. Their women avoid foolish jesting, levity of speech, especially abstaining from lies or swearing. They do so much as make use of the common term 'in truth' or 'for certain' or the like because they regard these as oaths, contenting themselves with answering simply 'yes' or 'no.'
   That is a very finite, tiny point. These Waldenses do not even so much as make use of the common terms: I'm not kidding, I really mean it; no fooling, honest to goodness, in truth, for certain, or I'm not kidding. You do not have to say that. That is like taking an oath, like swearing. Just say 'yes' or 'no' and stick to it.

Church of God

   Jones then quotes from Peter Allix, History of the Churches of Piedmont:
   In his church history of the churches of Piedmont, Allix mentions the church as the Church of God. It will be observed that the people called them Waldenses.
   They called themselves the Church of God. The world called people Lutherans. Martin Luther did not call his followers Lutherans. John the Baptist originated the Baptist church's name even before Christ built His church?

Despise Easter

   Jones then quotes The History of the Sabbath and Sunday, by Lewis:
   They can say a great part of the old and new testaments by heart. They despise the sayings and expositions of holy men, and they only plead for the test of scripture, they say that the doctrines of Christ and His apostles are sufficient for salvation without any church statutes and ordinances.
   You do not need any Christmas or Easter, Palm Sunday or indulgences or penances!
   The traditions of the church are no better than the traditions of the Pharisees, and that greater stress is laid on the observance of human tradition than on keeping of the law of God.
   Why do you transgress the law of God by your traditions?
   They condemned all approved ecclesiastical customs which they do not read of in the gospels as the observance of Palm Sunday, the reconciliation of penitents, the adoration of the cross and Good Friday. They despise the Feast of Easter, and all other Roman festivals of Christ and the saints because of their being multiplied of that vast number, and they work on holy days of the Roman church, where they can do it without being taken notice of.

Unbroken Chain

   They declare themselves to be the apostles' successors, to have apostolic authority. Even their ministers have been ordained in an unbroken chain since the apostles.

That is some claim, but it is true.
They claimed "...the key of binding and loosing."

Ordinances of Rome

   They hold the church of Rome to be the whore of Babylon and that all who obey her are damned, especially the clergy that are subject to her. Since the time of Pope Sylvester, they hold that none of the ordinances of the church that have been introduced since Christ's ascension ought to be observed. The feasts, fasts, blessings, offices of the church and the like, they utterly reject.
   That is from the Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Piedmont Church. Not of the latter Piedmont church, the Vaudois!

Not Intermarry with Rome

   The following facts are indubitably correct that the general body of the Albigenses were two branches of the same sect. Monsignor de Vigne, 40 years a Waldensian pastor says, 'We live in peace and harmony with one another, having intercourse and dealings chiefly among ourselves, never having mingled ourselves with the members of the church of Rome by marrying our sons to their daughters nor their sons to our daughters.' [See! They did not agree with intermarriage of religions either.] He also says that, 'The holy scriptures contain all things necessary for our salvation and that we are called only to believe what they teach without any regard to the authority of man, that nothing on earth should be received by us except what God has commanded, and that there is only one mediator between God and man."18
   The History of the True Church by Dugger and Dodd quotes from Comba's work on the Waldenses in their recording of the 11th and 12th centuries.
   The Waldenses objected to being called after Peter Waldo. They teach that we are a little Christian flock, falsely called Waldenses. 'We are proud of working,' and they reproached the Roman clergy with idleness.19

What is Anti-Christ?

   Jones' Church History mentions a book entitled in their Waldensian language, Qui Cosis Sai Lonti Christ? That is, what is anti-Christ, under date of the year 1120. Another book is entitled, "The Noble Lesson, dated 1100 A.D." What? One of the booklets they had available, "What is the Anti-Christ?"
   Jones says: The Ancient Waldenses held that to endow churches from state funds is an evil thing, and that then the church fell and became the whore, sitting on that beast mentioned in the book of Revelation.
   I had never thought of that. Any time any church began to compromise and take funds and accept help from secular power, then that church was being sat upon by the beast. That's what he says here!

Youths Were Examples

   In Jones we read: They can all read and write, they are acquainted with French so far as is needful for the understanding of the Bible and the singing of Psalms. You can scarce find a boy among them who cannot give you an intelligible account of the faith which they profess. [In this indeed they resemble their brethren of the other valleys.] They pay tribute with a good conscience and the obligation of this duty is particularly noted in the confession of their faith. If by any reason of the civil wars they are prevented from doing this they very carefully set apart the sum and at the first opportunity, put it to the king's tax gatherers.
   Then Francis I, the successor of Louis XII, received on inquiry, the following information concerning the Waldenses of Marindahl and other neighboring places; namely, that they were a laboring people who came from Piedmont to dwell in Provence about 200 years ago, that they had much improved the country by their industry. That their manners were most excellent, that they were honest, liberal, hospitable and human.
   From Jones' Church History, Townsend's Abridgement of the history by Wylie:
   The Waldenses were conscientiously obedient to established governments and their separation from a church so corrupt as that of Rome was to them only a matter of necessity. We shall now see what they were in point of doctrine.
   The leading principle of this church was that we ought to believe that the holy scriptures alone contain all the things necessary to our salvation and that nothing ought to be received as an article of faith except what God has given us.
   Whatever this principle dwells in the heart, it repels superstition and idolatry. There the worship of one God and through the one mediator and by the influence of one Holy Spirit is practiced.
   The doctrines of purgatory, the intercession of saints, the adoration of images, or relics and austerity can not stand before the doctrines of scripture. The Waldenses were faithful to the great fundamental Protestantism. They affirm that there is only one mediator and therefore we must not implicate the saints, that there is no purgatory but that all those who are justified by Christ go into life eternal. A number of their old treaties events that for some hundred years the principle of the gospels which alone can produce such holiness of life as the Waldenses exhibited in their conduct were preserved, understood and embraced by this chosen people while anti-Christ was in the very height of his power. In a book concerning their pastors, we have this account of their vocation.

Ministerial Qualifications

   All who are to be ordained as pastors among us, while they are yet at home, entreat us to receive them into the ministry and desire that we would pray to God that they would be rendered capable of so great a charge. They are to learn by heart all the chapters of St. Matthew and St. John, all the canonical epistles and a good part of the writings of Solomon, David and the prophets.

Laying On Of Hands

   Afterwards, having exhibited proper testimonials of their learning and conversation, they are admitted as pastors by the imposition of hands. [What about the Church of Christ? What about the Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and Baptists? Where did they go?]
   The junior pastors must do nothing without the license of their seniors, [That sounds like church government, doesn't it? The local elders aren't to do anything without the license of the preaching elders or the pastors over them,] nor are the seniors to do anything. [Even the preaching elders and the pastors, cannot go out on their own and decide something without the approbation of their colleagues. They have to have the counsel, the wisdom and the understanding of those under them as well.]
   That everything may be done among us in order. We pastors get together once every year to settle our affairs in a general synod. Those whom we teach afford us food and raiment with good will. The money given us by the people is carried to the general synod, is there received by the elders and is applied partly to the supply of the travellers and partly to the relief of the indigent. [See The Headquarters System.] If a pastor among us shall fall into dross sin, he is ejected from the community and debarred from the function of preaching.
   By that local church? Did that local church decide that a local minister had fallen into dross sin and that he should be kicked out? I'm afraid not. The general synod that met once a year did.

Respect, Not Worship, For Mary

   The Waldenses in general express their firm belief that there is no mediator other than Jesus Christ.
   They spake with great respect of the virgin, Mary. She was holy, humble and full of grace. At the same time, they totally discountenanced that senseless and extravagant admiration in which she had been held for ages. The laborers of Claudius of Turine in the 9th century appear under God to have produced these blessed results as to the faith and honesty of the Waldenses. The Waldenses took special care for the religious instruction of their children by the question and answer and early taught the youth of the things which pertain to life and godliness. If more could be said of this people than that, they hated the gross abomination of popery, and condemn the vices of the generality of mankind. No doubt there were unsound professors among them as among all denominations.

Our Sinful Nature

   It is said in their community there were many real Christians who knew how to direct the edge of their severity against their indwelling sins and who being truly humbled under their native depravity, betook themselves wholly to the grace of God in Christ for salvation. [They realized their own nature had to be ruled. They realized their own depraviity, just by their own birth, and that they had to overcome it.]

Discharge of Family Religion

   It is clearly evident from the background of their history that the Waldenses were a humble people, prepared to receive the gospel of Christ from the heart, to walk in His steps to carry His cross and to fear sin above all other evils. They were devout, strict in the discharge of family religion. [That is mentioned over and over. That is one of the outstanding strong points of the Waldenses. They were devoutly strict in the discharge of family religion.]
   In some ancient inquisitorial memoirs describing their names and customs, it is said of them, before they go to meat the elder among them says, "God, who blessed the five barley loaves and two fishes in the wilderness, bless this table and that which is upon it in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
   And after meat, he says, "The God who has given us corporal food, grant us spiritual life, and may God be with us and we always with Him."
   After their meals, they teach and exhort one to another. There were evidently many humble and devout followers of Christ among these people who felt the power and enjoyed the consolations of the doctrines of the cross.20

No Pagan Festivals

   Priceless truths are added by the History of the Sabbath, by J.N. Andrews:
   Thus a Romish inquisitor as quoted by Allix bears testimony concerning those in Bohemia. They can say a great part of the Old and New Testaments by heart. That the traditions of the church are no better than the traditions of the Pharisees. They despise the feast of Easter and all other festivals of "Christ."
   Then he says Dr. Allix quotes a Waldensian document of A.D. 1100 entitled The Noble Lesson and remarks, 'the author, upon supposing that the world was drawing to an end, exhorts his brethren to prayer, to watchfulness, to renouncement of all worldly goods. He sets down all the judgments of God in the Old Testament as the effects of a just and good God and in particular the decalogue as a law given by the Lord of the whole world. He repeats the several articles of the law, not forgetting that which respects idols.'
   Notice the emphasis on the ten commandments and the law of the Old Testament.

Sabbath Keepers

   Their religious views are further stated by Allix, 'they declare themselves to be the apostles' successors, to have apostolical authority.' They hold that any of the ordinances of the church that have been added since Christ's ascension ought not to be observed. A considerable part of the people called Waldenses bore the significant designation of sabati or sabatati, or insabatati. Mr. Jones alludes to this fact in these words. 'Because they would not observe saints' days, they were falsely supposed to neglect the Sabbath also and were called insabatati which means NO SABBATH.'
   That is why they called them "No Sabbath," because they refused to observe any of the Sabbaths of the Roman church. Because they would not observe saints' days, they were falsely supposed to neglect the Sabbath also and they were designated insabatati or insabatitus. Mr. Benedict, Baptist historian, makes the following statement:
   We find that the Waldenses were sometimes called insabatos, that is, regardless of Sabbaths.
   That is what the word means in this man's interpretation: insabatos, regardless of Sabbaths.
   Mr. Milner supposes this name was given to them because they observed not the Roman festivals and rested from their ordinary occupations only on Sunday.
   That's what Mr. Milner supposes. Let's see what the truth is about it.

Meaning of Sabatati

   A Sabbatarian would suppose it is because they met to worship on the seventh day, and did not regard the first day Sabbath.
   So Benedict says the real reason is because they observed or met to worship on the seventh day and did not regard the first day Sabbath. And then Jones says it is because they wouldn't observe any of the saints' days, nor even the Roman Sabbath, so they called them 'no Sabbaths.' That's what that name meant. He says it wasn't because they neglected the Sabbath. Mr. Robinson gives statements of these three classes or writers respecting the meaning of these names which were born by the Waldenses but he rejects them all, alleging that these persons were led to their conclusion by the apparent meaning of the words, and not by the facts. Here are his words, quoting from Robinson's:
   Some of these Christians were called sabbati, sabatati, insabatati, and more frequently inzabatati. Led astray by sound without attending to facts, one says they were so named from the Hebrew word, Sabbath, because they kept the Sabbath for the Lord's Day.
   You see what he quotes, that one says they were named from the Hebrew word, Sabbath, because they kept the Sabbath for the Lord's Day.
   Another says they were so called because they rejected all the festivals or Sabbaths in the low Latin sense of the word, which the Catholic church religiously observed.
   So another says they were called that because they rejected all the Roman days. What difference does it make which one of these reasons they called them that? Probably for both reasons!

Sandal Theory Disproved

   A third says, and many with various alterations and additions have said after him, that they were so called from Sabot or zabot, a shoe, because they distinguished themselves from other people by wearing shoes marked on the upper part with some peculiarity.
   Now let's see how much sense that makes. If you were hiding out from someone who was about to martyr you, would you wear shoes that everyone recognizes as a Waldensian insabatati? That's kind of ridiculous isn't it?
   It is not likely that people who could not even descend from their own mountains without hazarding their own lives through the furious zeal of the inquisitors should tempt danger by affixing a visible mark on their shoes.
   I'd say it is very, very unlikely! So much so that someone must have invented the 'sabot' shoe myth to conceal the true Sabbath keeping identity!
   Besides, the shoes of the peasants happen to be famous in this country. It was of a different fashion, and was called abarca.
   See, that's why they called them insabatati, because they wore abarcas? Now that doesn't make sense at all. Yet that is what the Sunday keepers who write about the history of the Waldenses try to disguise insabatati as to what it means.
   Mr. Robinson rejects these three statements and then gives his own judgment that they were so called because they lived in the mountains.
   What did they call the mountains sabatati? Sabbath mountains? That would be something! Even if that was so, that even establishes the fact they kept the Sabbath moreso...because they were the Sabbath mountains in Northern Italy. Where did they get the name, Sabbath mountains?
   These four facts cover all that has been advanced relative to the meaning of these names but Robinson's own explanation is purely fanciful and seems to have been adopted by no other writer.
   He offers, however, conclusive reasons for having rejected the statement that they took their names from their shoes. There remained therefore only the first and second of these four statements which are that they were called by these names because they kept the Saturday for the Lord's day, and because they did not keep the Sabbath of the papacy. These two statements do not conflict, in fact, if one of them be true it almost certainly follows that the other one must be true also.
   There would be in such fact something worthy to give it a distinguishing name to the true people of God surrounded by the great apostasy and the natural and obvious interpretation of the names would disclose the most striking characteristics of the people who bore them. Jones and Benedict agree with Robinson in rejecting the idea that the Waldenses received this name from their shoes. Mr. Jones held, on the contrary, that they were given it because they did not keep the Romish festivals. Mr. Benedict favors the view that it was because they kept the Saturday, the seventh day.

Testimony of Jurist, Historian

   But let us now see who they are that make these statements respecting the observance of the Sabbath by the Waldensians that Robinson alludes to in this place. Andrews then quotes out of Gretzer, the words of the historian, Goldastus as follows:
   'Insabatati they were called, not because they were circumcised, but because they kept the Jewish Sabbath.' Goldastus was a learned historian and jurist, born near Bishconal in Switzerland in 1576. He died in 1635. He was a Calvinistic writer of note.
   So why would he have any special reason for their being Sabbath keepers? He wouldn't! He was a Calvinistic writer, a learned historian, and even a jurist. And yet he says, 'insabatati they were called, not because they were circumcised, but because they kept the Jewish Sabbath.'
   He certainly had no desire to favor the cause of the seventh day. Gretzer objects to his statement on the ground that the Waldenses exterminated every festival.
   That's true every Roman festival.
   But this was the most natural thing in the world for men who had God's own rest day in their keeping.
   Robinson also quotes on this point the testimony of Archbishop Usher. Though that prelate held that the Waldenses derived these names from their shoes, he frankly acknowledges that many understood that they were given to them because they worshipped on the Jewish Sabbath.
   This testimony is valuable in that it shows that many early writers asserted the observance of the Saturday for the Lord's Day by the people who were called Sabatati. In consequence of the persecutions which they suffered and also because of their own missionary zeal, the people called Waldenses were widely scattered over Europe. They bore however, different names in different ages and in different countries. We have decisive testimony that some of these bodies observed the seventh day, others observed Sunday.
   They had suffered that woman Jezebel to teach among them and to seduce the servants of God.
   Yes, but he gets the wrong conclusion. The Waldenses did go astray. They did go backwards, they did allow the false system to teach among them and seduce God's servants. They had even come to practice infant baptism and the priests of Rome administered the rite to their children. That's true. Later, Waldenses did go that way backwards and in addition to this, they sometimes joined with them in the service of mass.
   If a portion of the Waldenses in Southern Europe at the time of the Reformation had exchanged believers' baptism for the baptism of children by Romish priests, it isn't difficult to see how they could also accept Sunday as a rest day from the same source in place of the hallowed rest day of the Lord.

Cathari Sabbatarians

   Another class of witnesses to the truth during the dark ages bore the name of Cathari, that is the name for Puritans. Jones speaks of them as follows: The Cathari did retain and observe the ancient Sabbath as certified by their Romish adversaries. Dr. Allix quotes a Romish Catholic author of the 12th century concerning these sorts of heretics, the Cathari, the Passagi, and the Arnoldesti. All three of these were quoted as Sabbath keepers: the Cathari, the Passagi and the Arnoldesti. Allix says of this Romish writer, he lays it down also as one of their opinions 'that the law of Moses is to be kept according to the letter and that the keeping of the Sabbath, circumcision and other legal observances ought to take place.'
   Dr. Allix quotes another Roman author to the same effect, 'Alanus attributes to the Cathari almost the very same opinions in his first book against heretics which he wrote about the year 1192.' Mr. Elliott [another historian] makes mention concerning the Cathari which is in harmony with what these historians assert respecting their observance of the seventh day. He says, 'in this year A.D. 1163, certain heretics of the sect of the Cathari coming from the parts of Flanders to Cologne took up their abode secretly in a barn near the city but as on the Lord's Day, they did not go to church, they were seized by their neighbors and on their being brought before the Catholic church and after long examination respecting their sect, they would be convinced by no evidence however convincing but most perniciously they persisted in their doctrine and resolution they were cast out from the church and delivered into the hands of the Laics. These, leading them without the city, committed them to the flames being four men and one little girl.'
   They were found out because they stayed in the barn and did not go to church on the Lord's Day.

Arnoldiste, Passaginini, Sabbatarians

   These statements were made respecting three classes of Christian people who lived during the dark ages: the Cathari or Puritans, the Arnoldiste and the Passiginians, presented in the uncandid language of their enemies, but the testimony of ancient Catholic historians is decisive that they were observers of the seventh day. That they observed circumcision also will be noted presently. Mr. Robinson understood that the Passiginians were that portion of the Waldensians who lived in the passes of the mountains.
   So we notice that the Passiginians were early Waldensians who came down from the Bogomils because of their dwelling in the passes of the mountains. They were called Passagini. Genus of the passes, or the genus of men who live in the passes.
   It is very creditable that the name Passagaros or Passagini was given to the men who lived in or near the passes or passages of the mountains and who subsisted in part by guiding travellers or by travelling themselves for trade. Mr. Elliot says of the name Passiginians, the explanation of the term as meaning pilgrims in both the spiritual and missionary sense of the word, would be but the translation of their recognized Greek name in a title as distinctive as beautiful. Mosheim gives the following account of them: 'in Lombardi, which was the principal residence of the Italian heretics, there sprung up a singular sect, known for what reason I can not tell, by the denomination of the Passiginian and also that of The Circumcised. Like the other sects already mentioned they had utmost aversion to the doctrine and discipline of the church of Rome but they were distinguished at the same time by two religious tenets which were peculiar to themselves.

Note what he says these two peculiar beliefs were.

Observe Mosaic Law Except Sacrifices

   The first was a notion that the observance of the law of Moses in everything with the exception of the law of sacrifices was obligatory upon Christians in consequence of which they circumcised their followers, they abstained from those meats, the use of which was prohibited under the Mosaic economy and celebrated the Jewish Sabbath. The second tenet that distinguished this sect was advanced in opposition to the doctrine of three persons in the divine nature.

They opposed the trinity doctrine.

   Mr. Benedict speaks of them as follows: 'The account of their practicing circumcision is undoubtedly a slanderous story forged by their enemies and probably arose in this way. Because they observed the seventh day they were called, by way of derision, Jews, as the Sabbatarians are frequently to this day and if they were Jews, it follows of course that they either did or ought to circumcise their followers. This was probably the reasoning of their enemies but that they actually practiced the bloody rite is altogether improbable. An imminent historian, Michael Giddes, thus describes, 'this act of affixing something that is justly abominable to all mankind upon her adversaries has been the common practice of the church of Rome.'


   He encountered various classes of heretics who had been condemned by the Catholic Church for keeping the seventh day holy. Among these heretics, he places the Petrobrusians.'In St Bernard's day it was condemned in the Petrobrusians.' We have seen that, according to Catholic writers, a Cathari held to the observance of the seventh day.
   The Sabbath keepers in the 11th century were of sufficient importance to call down upon themselves the anathema of the pope. Dr. Highland says that, 'Gregory of that name the seventh [Gregory VII] about A.D. 1174 condemned those who taught that it was not lawful to do work on the day of the Sabbath."
   This act of the pope corroborates the testimonies we have adduced in proof of the existence of the Sabbath keepers in the Dark Ages. Gregory VII was one of the greatest men who ever filled the papal chair. Whatever class he anathematized was of some consequence. Gregory wasted nothing on trifles. In the 11th century, there were Sabbath keepers also in Constantinople and its vicinity. The pope in A.D. 1024 sent three legates to the emperor of the East and to the patriarch of Constantinople for the purpose of reuniting the Greek and Latin churches. Cardinal Humbert was the head of this legation. The legates on their arrival set to the work of refuting those doctrines which distinguished the church of Constantinople from that of Rome. After they had attended to the questions which separated the two churches they found it was also necessary to discuss the keeping of the Sabbath because one of the most learned men of the East had put forth in a treatise in which he maintained that ministers should be allowed to marry, that the Sabbath should be kept holy and that unleavened bread should be used in the Supper, all of which the church of Rome held to be deadly heresies. We quote from Mr. Bower a concise statement of the treatment which this Sabbatarian writer received, 'Humbert likewise answered the piece that had been published by the monk of the monastery of Studium near Constantinople, named Nicetes, who was deemed one of the most learned men of that time in the East. In that piece, the monk undertook to prove that unleavened bread ought to be used in the eucharist, that the Sabbath ought to be kept holy and the priests should be allowed to marry. But the emperor who wanted by all means to gain the pope for the reasons mentioned above was, or rather pretended to be, so fully convinced of the legate confuting those alleged by Nicetes that he obliged the monk publicly to recant and anathematized all who held the opinion that he had endeavored to establish with respect to the Sabbath, unleavened bread, and the marriage of the priests. At the same time, Nicetes complied, recanted and anathematized anybody who followed the very thing he had just written his paper proving."21

Holy Days Kept by Hungarian Sabbatarians

   Amazing details are revealed about the Sabbatarians' beliefs and practices in The Sabbatarians of Hungary by Professor W. Bacher. The sect of Sabbatarians according to a trustworthy tradition, coming down to us from a contemporary chronicler, the founder of the sect was one Andreas Eossi, and the same authority names the year 1588 as the year of his initiating the movement.
   Andreas Eossi on Szent-Erzsebet was a rich Szekely of noble birth, who owned three villages, a great number of estates in the countries of Udvarhelyszek, Kukullo and Fehervar, and who belonged to the earliest adherents of Unitarianism in Transylvania. Having been visited by severe trials, [he was ailing for many years, and had lost his wife and three sons], he sought consolation in religion. 'He had read the Bible so long' runs the account of the chronicler already mentioned 'that he evolved from there the Sabbatarian from of religion.' What he recognized as truth, he endeavoured to disseminate in the surrounding district; he composed treatises, prayers, and hymns, caused copies of these and other writings to be prepared, and lent them out in all directions. He possessed no knowledge of Hebrew, and had only a slender acquaintance with the Classics. He was, however, well versed in Church history, and was completely master of the Old and New Testament, from both of which he derived his teaching. He was altogether an enemy of the scholastic theology, and said on one occasion: 'They ask me in vain where I discovered the true way of salvation, since I sojourned neither at Padua nor at Paris. As if salvation consisted of knowing many heathen writings and many heathen languages.' He betook himself with his new propaganda to 'the great simple community,' as the chronicler says. Soon, too, he had fellow-workers, whose names have only been partially preserved. About 1600, there was compiled 'the old hymn-book of the Sabbatarians,' probably by Eossi himself. This book is the most important source whence a knowledge of the doctrines of the sect may be derived; it is the oldest monument of their literature, and contains paraphrases of the Psalms [very much like our own] and other poetical passages of the Bible, metrical renderings of the Jewish prayer-book, older Unitarian hymns either unaltered or adapted to the new religious views, numerous original hymns and FESTIVE songs, and lastly, a collection of didactic poems. Of the 110 poetical compositions which are to be found in three manuscripts of this old Sabbatarian hymn-book, no less than 44 relate to the Sabbath, which, on account of the special regard in which its celebration was held, gave the sect the name they bear. FIVE songs belong to the NEW MOON, 11 to the FESTIVAL OF PASSOVER, 6 to the FEAST OF WEEKS, 6 to TABERNACLES, 3 to the NEW YEAR, and 1 to the DAY OF ATONEMENT. Besides these, there are 3 funeral hymns, 26 hymns of varied contents, and 5 didactic poems.
   The foregoing summary shows what position the Jewish festivals occupied in the ritual of the Sabbatarians. They kept, of course, only the festivals enjoined in the Pentateuch, for the Sabbatarians of the first period only recognized the Five Books of Moses as the religious law to which they were pledged. They did not celebrate Purim and Chanukah. But even the Mosaic laws they did not observe in their entirety, for they kept the dietary laws only up to a certain limit [probably ate meat and milk together], and circumcision not at all. The Sabbath played the most important part in their religious life, probably for this reason: that it brought the contrast between them and Christianity most prominently into view. They called the Sabbath celebration a 'spiritual marriage' and adorned themselves for it in wedding attire. The Sabbath service consisted of prayers and hymns, introduced and concluded by the sermon or 'instruction.' One of the sabbatical hymns mentions among the requisites of a proper observance of the Sabbath, 'study of the holy law, feeding the poor, moderation in living, cheerfulness of disposition': in another it is said: 'Let man first hallow himself, then the Sabbath of the Lord.' Although the feast of the first of Tishri is not designated the New Year festival in the Pentateuch, yet they celebrated it as the 'New Year' with special emphasis, as a contrast to the papal invention of the Christian new year.' In attempting to understand this celebration of the Jewish festivals by the older Sabbatarians, it must be remarked as particularly characteristic, that they maintained that, in adhering to these observances, they were following THE EXAMPLE AND TEACHING of Jesus. 'He who keeps not the Sabbath will have no portion in the inheritance of Christ'; they celebrated the 'PASSOVER OF ISRAEL, according to the command of our Christ.' They bound up with the Passover festival [in accordance with the views which they entertained regarding the MILLENNIUM] the hope of the future redemption which Jesus will bring, in order to build up his MILLENNIAL kingdom.

Regard for Jesus As the Christ

   In other respects, also it is impossible to overlook the Jewish-Christian character of Sabbatarianism. They regard Jesus as greater than Moses and the prophets; call him 'our Christ, Lord Jesus, King,' even 'the son of God'; the last, however, in the sense that all deserve to be called 'sons of God' who are free from sin. For the most part they reverence him as the Messiah, as the Deliverer proclaimed by the prophets. On the other hand, however, they accentuated his purely human nature, and laid stress on the belief that his mission had for its object NOT THE DESTRUCTION BUT THE MAINTENANCE OF THE LAW. Jesus himself, however, 'was a Jew both in nationality and religion. He preached the Jewish law and drew men to Moses and the prophets. His Apostles too were all Jews, taught the Jewish faith and kept it themselves.' Whoever, therefore, would be a true follower of Jesus and the Apostles must obey the Mosaic law in all things, as the Jews have always done and still do.
   The one thing for which the Sabbatarians reproached the Jews was that they refused to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. In spite of this, however, the Jews are still God's chosen people even in their dispersion. 'There is no man, no people, no nationality under heaven whom God has chosen like the Jews.' The Sabbatarians frequently declared that they joined themselves to Israel, and felt themselves Jews. In a Sabbath hymn occurs the following: 'We have chosen the observance of Thy law, we have found delight in the camp of Israel, despite his miserable lot.' And in another song: 'Not Abraham was our father, neither are we the remnant of his seed; but we are sprung from the house of Japheth, sons of ignorant heathens...Yet in Thee, our gracious Father, delight and exalt our heart, our soul, and our mouth; though we were heathens, yet hast Thou turned unto us and hast made us sons of great Abraham.' In one hymn they express their thanks for their conversion to the Law: 'Thou hast brought us forth from this WORLDLY BLINDNESS, hast delivered us from the hell of errors, from danger, sin, death, from the torment of fiery hell.'

Unleavened Bread and 'Christian' Festivals

   Another way in which the Sabbatarians demonstrated their accession to Judaism was by their strict exclusion of Christian ceremonies. They were most determined in their repudiation of baptism [probably sprinkling they repudiate judging by the churches in their environs and their mode of baptism], ESPECIALLY INFANT BAPTISM. They declared the Christian festivals to be inventions of the popes, and even protested against the ringing of church bells. They regarded the Lord's Supper, not as a new institution of Jesus, but as an old Jewish custom. ON THE FIRST NIGHT OF PASSOVER THEY ATE UNLEAVENED BREAD, 'the bread of the Messiah,' calling to mind the Redeemer, who had appeared, and would one day come again. The ethics underlying the old hymn-book of the Sabbatarians reflect the principles of Jewish moral teaching, such Christian moral teaching as is closely connected with the Jewish. They paraphrased the command to love one's fellow-man thus: 'What I do not wish for myself from others, that I am not bound by in the case of others.' On the other hand, concerning the New Testament behest to love one's enemies, we find the following: 'Anything impossible which transcends the law, God requires of no one.' A hymn contains the exhortation 'to pray with pure earnest heart for those who persecute us.' Practical humanity and benevolence are commended and glorified in a host of varied sayings. One who might have done good and omitted to do it commits a heinous sin. On festivals we ought 'to rejoice and to give joy to others, to let the poor share in all good.' Debauchery and EXCESSIVE DRINKING are condemned as capital crimes. Fulfilment of civil duties, respect for authority and for the laws of the country, are enjoined in the name of religion. Yet the limitation expressed in the following strophe is characteristic of the position of the Sabbatarians as a sect who were harassed in the practice of their faith: 'Let us fear and honour our princes, let us honour the judges and their names, let us submit to their word according to God's will, but in no wise honour them against God's will."22

Waldenses Were Sabbath Keepers

We learn from J. H. Andrews' History of the Sabbath:

   The Waldenses were a body of Christians who stood aloof from the church and its alliance with the secular power and consequently remained free from any of the corruptions and pagan worships which the heathens had incorporated into their religion when they came into the national church. Mosheim, in his church history, says, 'they complained that the Roman church had degenerated under Constantine the Great from its primitive, purity and sanctity. They denied the supremacy of the Roman pontiff.' Robinson, in his History of Baptism says, 'they were called Sabati and Sabbatati, so named from the Hebrew word Sabbath because they kept Saturday for the Lord's Day.'

Opposed Saints' Days

   Jones in his Church History, says that because they would not observe saints' days they were falsely supposed to neglect the Sabbath also. A commissioner of Charles XII of France reported that he found among them none of the ceremonies, images or signs of the Romish church, much less the crimes with which they were charged. On the contrary they kept the Sabbath day, observed the ordinance of baptism according to the primitive church and instructed their children in the articles of the Christian faith and the commandments of God.

From The History of the Sabbath, by Lewis, we discover:

   The History of the Sabbath during the early years of the reformation is necessarily meager. The descendants of the Waldenses in Bohemia, Holland and other parts of Northern Europe seem to have formed the material for Sabbath keeping churches which came to light when the rays of reformation began to illumine the long continued night of papal apostacy. These Sabbath keepers were Baptists and hence were classified with the despised Anabaptists.

Bohemian Sabbatarians Progenitors of Seventh Day Baptists

   An old German historian, John Sliden, speaking of a sect in Bohemia called Pickards, says they admit of nothing but the Bible. They choose their own priests and bishops, deny no human marriage, perform no offices for the dead and have but very few holy days and ceremonies. These are the same people to whom Erasmus refers, representing them as extremely strict in observing the Sabbath. Robert Cox, in his Sabbath literature, makes them the progenitors of the Seventh Day Baptists. He says, 'with reference to the origin of this sect, Seventh Day Baptists, I find a passage in Erasmus that in an early period of the Reformation when he wrote there were Sabbatarians in Bohemia who not only kept the seventh day but were said to be so scrupulous on resting on it that if anything went into their eyes they would not remove it till the morrow.' In their own writings they denied such an accusation.
   Ospenian of Zurich, in his treatise, replies to the arguments of these Sabbatarians: 'The story concerning their extreme strictness on the Sabbath is doubtless a forgery.' Dr. Hessey refers to these same Sabbatarians as the origin of the Seventh Day Baptists.

The Sabbatarian Carlstadt

   In a voluminous work by Alexander Ross, speaking of these people at the beginning of the Reformation, he says 'some only will observe the Lord's day, some only the Sabbath, some both and some neither.' Bishop White, speaking of Sabbath observance, bears this testimony: 'The same likewise being revived in Luther's time by Carlstadt and Sterinbergus and by some sectaries among the Anabaptists.' [So notice this too. Among the Anabaptists there were Sabbath keeping Ana-baptists and this particular bishop in a report of the Baptists and Ana-baptists says the Sabbath keeping 'was revived in Luther's day by Carlstadt and Sterinbergus and by some sectarians among the Ana-baptists as both then and ever since censored as Jewish and heretical.] Ross bears concurrent testimony to the Sabbatarianism of Sternaberg. Carlstadt, it will be remembered, was an intimate friend of Luther, between whom and himself a separation was initiated because of Carlstadt's extreme radicalism in his plans for reformation.' [Remember this famous statement Carlstadt made the only thing wrong with Martin Luther, he didn't reform far enough. That was his opinion! Martin Luther in return said of Carlstadt that he went too far. He was a radical reformer.]

Bohemian Sabbath Keepers

   Mr. Gillfillian quotes a writer of the year 1585, one John Stockwood, who states that in those times there were manifold disputations among the learned and a great disputation among the vulgar people and the simple sort concerning the Sabbath day and the right use of the same, some maintaining the changed and unchangeable obligation of the seventh day Sabbath. Chambers Cyclopedia refers to the Bohemian Sabbath keepers and others as follows: Accordingly in the reign of Elizabeth, it occurred to many conscientious and independent thinkers as it had previously done to some protestors in Bohemia, that the fourth commandment required of them the observance not of the first but of the seventh day of the week and a strict bodily rest then due to God. They became numerous enough to make a considerable figure for more than a century in England under the title of Sabbatarians, a word now exchanged for the less ambiguous name of Seventh Day Baptists. They have nearly disappeared in England, though in the 17th century so numerous as to call forth replies from Bishop White, Warner, Baxter, Bunyan, Wallace and others. That is how well known they were by the church of England. Also Catholic bishops had to write out replies to some of the statements that these Sabbath keepers made.
   Thus it is seen that there were Protestant Sabbath keeping Baptists in Bohemia, Holland and England as early as the beginning of the 16th century.23
   The Waldenses, by Strong, in speaking of the Waldensian Valley says:
   Though agriculturally of but little importance, historically it is not the least important among the valleys. To this retired region have the people often withdrawn as an asylum that could not be invaded when most sorely pressed by their foes. [Within this region was the sacred spot called the Shilo of the Valleys, where in former ages the Waldensian synod met.]

They met where they called the Shilo of the Valleys.

   And here also was located the 'school of the prophets.'
   So they had a school for the training of teachers and ministers even there.

Waldensian Colleges for The Church

   In a place called Predeltore, very high up toward the head waters of Androgna, secure from all interruptions, [the young men deciding to enter the gospel ministry assembled from the different valleys pursued such studies as were deemed essential to fit them for the work of the ministry. This theological school, though it maybe was a rude institution compared with some of our modern seminaries, nevertheless it sent forth many (noble bands of missionaries) to preach the pure gospel of Christ long before the period of the Reformation] and when the rest of the Christian world was perishing for the lack of knowledge.
   Mosheim, in a footnote, makes this important admission. I do not mean to deny that there were in the valleys of Piedmont long before this period, a sect of men who differed widely from the opinions adopted by the church of Rome and whose doctrines resembled in many respects those of the Waldenses.
   Mosheim, a Presbyterian historian, was saying that even though he said that the Waldensians did not exist before the time of Peter Waldo, he doesn't mean by that to deny that there were forerunners in the same valleys who had the same doctrines in many respects as those of the Waldenses.
   [All that I maintain is that these inhabitants are to be carefully distinguished from the Waldenses, who according to the unanimous voice of history were originally inhabitants of Lyons and derived their name from Waldo.]
   But he does admit that these people with like doctrines existed there even before Peter Waldo's time.

Paulicians in Alps in Eighth Century

   In the eighth century a large body of Paulicians retreated. Now notice when the eighth century. Remember when the Paulicians began to war and take up arms and fight. This date exactly coincides with that.
   In the eighth century a large body of Paulicians retreated from the persecution of the Greek emperors into Thrace and Bulgaria.

And of course there they were known as Bogomils.

   Being driven thence by the people of those countries they travelled Westward until they reached the Alps where they found people like themselves and settled among them. In the beginning of the ninth century, Alsuin who lived in the court of Charlemagne, says that the churches in the Alps did not practice confession as the countries of Italy did. Claude, who came to the office of bishop in Turine, which included the valleys of which we write, about the year 822 and then died in 839, was a vigorous opposer of the errors of Rome.
   And then of course in his day the Waldensians flourished, as it mentions here.

Made a Pope of the Bible

   The doctrines in which the Waldenses insisted upon the foundational principle that the word of God independent of every other authority is to be recognized as the infallible and only rule of faith and practice. Their own expressive language was taken from their ancient confession of faith. Notice, this is the ancient confession. We hold in abomination human invention as anti-Christian inventions for which we are disturbed and which are prejudicial to liberty and spirit. So rigidly did they adhere to this principal that they were sometimes charged by the Roman Catholic antagonists of making a pope of the Bible.
   And indeed the Bible was to them far more than pope. It was the certain revelation of God's will. They hold that the decrees of the pope and councils and the teaching of the fathers are to be followed only so far as they agree with the word of God, that the reading knowledge of scripture is to be equally free to both laity and clergy.

Summary of Beliefs

Their confession states:

   That baptism and the Lord's supper are the only sacraments in the New Testament church, that in the supper both elements are to be received by the poeple as well as by the priest, that the bread and wine are signs and symbols of Christ's body and blood.

Notice, the bread and wine, not bread and grape juice.

   That the sacrifice of the mass is impious, to say prayers for the dead is downright folly, that purgatory or any mental state of the departed souls is an invention of men, the invocation of saints is idolatry, the church of Rome is the apocalyptic whore of Babylon, the pope has no lawful primacy over the church or any title to both civil and ecclesiastical authority, that the vows of celibacy are the inventions of men, that monkery is but a stinking carcass of devotion. In short, boldly opposed to all the corrupted errors of papal Rome.


18. Jones, op. cit.

19. Dugger, op. cit., p. 142

20. Jones, op. cit.

21. J. N. Andrews, History of the Sabbath and the First Day of the Week, (Battle Creek: Review and Herald Publishing Co., n.d.), p. 408-413

22. "The Sabbatarians of Hungary," W. Bacher, The Jewish Quarterly Review, July 1890, p. 465-493

23. Andrews, op. cit.

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Publication Date: 1973
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