Chapter V - Series: 2:
The Only True Church
Continuing the quote:
They fulfill their promises with all good faith, and live for the most part in poverty. They protest that they alone preserve the apostolic life and doctrine. On this account, they assert that the power of the church resides with themselves as being the innocent and true disciples of Christ, for whose faith and religion they live in poverty, to suffer persecution from us they esteem honor and glorious. The Waldensians of Piedmont were a constant annoyance to the pope and his friends and while it is not the object of this work to show the cruelty of the Catholics. Notice, even at that time the name they used for their publication of the Waldensians of Piedmont! The Herald of Truth. We will discover later that same name in America and Britain. Remember that name. It is not The Plain Truth, but it is not too much different!
An instance will be given here which is only one of the many suffered by the Waldensians of this region. The following is taken from The Herald of Truth, May 15, 1889.
Example in Martyrdom
A young inquisitor, Francesco Borelli, obtained from Pope Gregory XI, pressing letters to the king of France, the duke of Savoy and the governor of Dauphine enjoining them to unite their forces for the purpose of extricating from the Alps this inveterate heresy. The inquisitor undertook the charge of the temporal arms that were confined to him, and his persecutions left not a single village unassailed. Like the fabulous robe of Centor, which destroyed whatever it touched, it seized whole families, whole populations so that the prisons were soon inadequate to receive the multitude of prisoners. New dungeons were constructed for them of mere bare walls designed only to secure and to inflict suffering on the captors. The valley of the Durantees with its ramifications of Prares, Pracinere and Valloee was absolutely disseminated. One would have said that the plague had passed over, but it was only the inquisitor. Borelli began by summoning before him all the inhabitants of these valleys. They did not appear and he condemned them for not appearing. That is exactly true. Two hundred and seventy years later, they were not the true church! They started baptizing babies, as well as other backslidings!
Thenceforward, exposed to be surprises by his satellites, they suffered the double exposure of their perils and the anguish of their families. One was seized on the highway, another in the field, one by his fireside. For fifteen years did the work of the extermination proceed in the name of the Catholic faith at the breath of the Vatican. At length, on the 22nd of May, 1393, all the churches of Embrin were decked as for a grand solemnity and the cathedral especially where the mass of the local clergies, covered with their theatrical decorations, were grouped in a choir, while near them a double line of soldiers served at once to keep the people in the nave and to guard a group of prisoners, soldiers of Christ condemned for the vindication of His word to be burned alive. Presently, the list of these people was read. There were 80 from phe valleys of Pracienerre and Argentierre and 150 from the Valloee, a large proportion of the population of that valley. After each name was pronounced the fatal formula that they condemned the living bodies of these 230 victims to the stake. The solitude of the desert now reigned in these deeply populated mountains and as the wolves abandoned the charnel houses, the inquisitors withdrew from the impoverished valleys. Morlin, in his book, History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of the Piedmont, says, 'Catinao had with him a daring and experienced leader named Laplude. This captain seeing the impossibility of forcing the entrenchments of the grotto on the side by which the Vaudois had reached it, lead his own men back into the valley. Then with all the ropes he could collect, he ascended Mt. Polvaux and making his way to the precipice overhanging the entrance to the cavern, descended by means of the ropes to the platform. Nothing could have been more easy for them, for the Vaudois, either to have cut the rope or to have slain each soldier before he reached the ground and then into the abyss. But in that, they would have disgraced the cause of Him who said, 'My Kingdom is not of this world, else would my servants fight.'
They remained in the place with the exception of a few, who, losing the control of their minds, threw themselves over the precipice rather than fall into the hands of the bloodthirsty persecutors.'
Some Departed From the Faith Whether some of the Waldenses practiced infant baptism has long been a disputed question. It should be remembered however, that persecution caused them to flee various parts of Europe and that not all them maintained the same doctrines at all times. For example, Ermingard, Elanus, Stephen of Bourbonne, Rynerius, Monita and David of Ogsburg, writers from 1192 to 1272, have plainly shown that the Waldenses did not practice infant baptism. On the other hand, Faber in an article of their confession records: 'They greatly err who deny baptism to the children of Christians.' The reason for this is obvious. At the time of the writers above referred to, infant baptism was discarded by the great majority of the brethren, while 270 years later, the time when the above was written some had departed from the faith of their fathers and WERE NOT RECOGNIZED AS TRUE BRETHREN BY A LARGE PART OF THE CHURCH; hence the above clause in their confession of faith.
Not Doing The Work
Thus far we have referred to the Waldensians as exclusively Italian while history in general refers to them as being of French nationality. The Italian Waldensians it seems were not actively engaged in missionary work. I guess they were not. It said they sought a refuge up in the mountains where they would be secure. Before that date, one branch went to Germany and another branch went to France.
About the year of 1160, Peter Waldo, a rich merchant of Lyons of France, aroused to a sense of his condition by the death of one of his friends. Waldo and two others were in a conversation when one of his friends fell down and immediately died. The question of that man's future state lead Waldo to repentance. What happens when you die? What is the purpose of life? The answers to these questions sparked Peter Waldo to repentance.
He learned much from the Albigenses, but decided that the only true source of knowledge was from the word of God itself, so he at once began a careful study of the Bible and to impart its Truths to his fellow man. He saw the need of having this sacred book translated into the language of the common people and took action for its accomplishment. He gave away very many copies of his new translation to those who were not able to buy and distributed of his wealth to the needy until his large fortune was gone. The effect was wonderful. It created a great desire to carry the gospel to others. Even in the times of persecution, men would leave their families in the care of their friends and with a shovel, a pick or an axe upon their shoulders to hide their real purpose, would travel great distances to preach the gospel to others. So effective were these evangelistic efforts that in little more than half a century after Waldo's death, one could walk from Belgium to Rome and lodge with those of his own faith every night. A persecution spread equally fast and untold suffering was the result. But divine truth is immortal and although it may allow itself to be taken and scourged, crowned and crucified and buried, it will, nevertheless, rise again on the third day and reign and triumph for eternity. The ancient Waldensian literature may be divided into two very different classes. The writings of the first period dated from the 12th and the commencement of the 13th century; above all they make no allusion to the existence of the Waldensians in Piedmont before the appearance of Waldos. It is otherwise with the writings which belong to the second period of history.
Articles of Faith Among the true Waldensians of this later period were very well-educated men who did much writing and some of their works have escaped the inquisitors' fires and have been preserved to this present day. From the Articles of Faith, which these men sent to the king of France and which were closely followed in their lives, the purpose of the Waldensians is well set forth. From writers of that day, we have also received valuable information on this point.
The following taken from the Martyrs Mirror, shows what the attitude of the Waldensians was toward the Catholic church. 'Infant baptism is wrong. Man ought not to swear at all, not even to the truth. No judge who would be a Christian may put to death anyone, not even a malefactor. An ungodly priest cannot consecrate. We are not subject, neither intend to be, to the pope or to other prelates. In matters of salvation, we must believe only the holy scriptures and in no wise depend on man. Said scriptures contain everything that is necessary to salvation and nothing is to be received but what is commanded of God.
There is but one Mediator, Christ, consequently, saints ought not to be invoked. There is no purgatory, but all who are justified in Christ enter into everlasting life and those who do not believe be cast into everlasting death, thus denying that there is still a third and fourth place. All masses, particularly those for the dead, should be refused. They admitted no other degrees in church offices than bishops, teachers and deacons, and all are the same level before the Lord. Popes and bishops who carry on wars are murderers. Inmates of monasteries ought not to be allowed judicial powers, nor should they be promised support. Repentance and conversion are necessary to eternal life, and bowing to images is idolatry. The Waldensians claimed that they had an uninterrupted succession of bishops from the time of the apostles and they are probably correct in their claim.
Waldensians Since Apostolic Times? According to modern Waldensian tradition, which a number of Protestant writers have followed, the name and origin of the Waldenses should be traced much beyond Waldenses of Lyons. By their account, Waldensians existed in the valleys of Piedmont from the time of Claudius of Turin, if not from apostolic times. Among them the doctrines of the gospel had throughout been preserved in their purity. From them Petros of Lyons derived his religious knowledge and the surname of Waldes. In support of this tradition, they refer to the ancient Waldensian literature but the impartial and full investigation of Dekoff and Herzog have unfortunately shown that these statements are wholly ungrounded.
A third era in their history when their dogmatic views underwent a complete change and they received the doctrine of justification by faith alone commenced about the time of Huss and was completed under the influence of the reformers, especially Zwingli and Calvin.11 These fathers' writings must have contradicted the current Catholic teachings and agreed with the Bible for him to use them thusly!
From Witnesses for Christ, by Backhouse and Tylor, we learn: Longing to know more of the scriptures than could be learned from the church lessons and from the sermons, Waldo conceived the design of translating the Bible into the vernacular tongue. With the assistance of three scholars, the whole of the new testament with the Psalms and many of the other books of the old testament were for the first time rendered accessible to the bulk of the people. At the same time, Waldo made a collection of passages from the fathers and illustration of scripture, especially from Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine and Pope Gregory.
You notice he says that just jumbles up the whole history of the Waldenses to try to claim that they went back earlier than that date.
The Act of Excommunication reads: To quench the malignity of diverse heresies, which of late have sprung up in most of the world, we declare all Cathari, Patarini, those who call themselves poor men of Lyons and others, to lie under a perpetual anathema.
This was formally administered at the Council of Arrona in 1184. We direct that every bishop, once or twice in the year, shall visit the parishes in which it is reported that heretics dwell and there cause two or three men of good credit and if need be, the whole neighborhood to declare an oath if they know of any heretics in that place, or any that have private meetings or differ from the common conversation of mankind.
Waldo passed into Bohemia where he was beyond the reach of papal policy. Here he founded a church, sheltered and safe, which became so numerous that in 1315 the communicants were estimated at 80,000. Of Waldo's last days and death, no record has come down to us. Rynerius, originally a Catharist, but who became a tool in the papal inquisition in his endeavor to blacken the memory of the Waldenses, unwittingly discloses the causes of their success. He admits the ignorance, immorality and profanity of the Romish clergy and owns that the craftsmen among the heretics, after toiling all day, gave up the night to learning and teaching and that many of them knew the whole of the New Testament by heart.
To stretch Waldensian History back to the Apostles brings infinite confusion into their whole history.
The date of Waldo who, as I cannot doubt, is rightly recognized as their founder. We certainly know when it is sought to get rid of their relation to him as embodied in the very name which they bear and to change this name into Valenses, the men of the valleys, or the Valesmen, it is a transformation which has no likelihood, logical or historic to recommend it. You see what he said there. He isn't saying by the fact that they refuse to admit they had an earlier date than 1200, he still isn't saying that they didn't come from earlier groups, other churches, which they certainly did.
There is no way to recommend such a thing. It was urged for long that a most important document of their own, The Noble Lesson, claimed a date for itself which would compel us to recognize the existence of Waldenses before Waldo and thus earlier than the latter half of the 12th century. But no one sufficiently acquainted with the facts concerning this document, as they are now known, would affirm as much any longer. Yet with all this, our refusal to admit the remoter ancestry, which is sometimes claimed for the Waldenses, must not be construed as a denial of all connection between them and the remonstrance of an earlier date.
The medieval church system, so far as it was a departure from apostolic simplicity, fashioned itself under continual protests, some of these utterly insane, and encountering departures from scripture in one direction, by far wilder departures in others, but others having scripture and the unbroken tradition of the church from the times of the apostles for their warrant. Now if any choose to call some early protestors of this better kind the ancestors of the Waldenses. See, if you choose to call some of these previous protestors ancestors of the Waldenses.
There is no reason why they should not use that language. It's all right. But don't try to say that the Waldensians themselves had an earlier date than in the latter part of the 12th century. He says if you choose to call some of these other protestors the fathers of the Waldenses, there is no reason you shouldn't use that language. So this is quite a proof even in itself that the Waldenses did come from previously existing sects, but not as the name Waldenses of an earlier date.
Avagard, age 41, was an ancestor. His contemporary, Claudius of Turin, was an ancestor. And here he goes, tracing it back through these accepted ancestors that people use.
But they were ancestors only inasmuch as they wrote in the same direction and were animated by the same spirit. When more is claimed for them, we have no choice but to say that no historic connection between these and those can be traced, that a vast gulf of centuries not historically bridged over, separates them from one another. They were bound to preach it. They got the evangelistic spirit. God began to open again the first love of spreading the gospel.
Peter Waldo, for we will not withhold from him this Christian name, although there is no authority for it inferior to the beginning of the 15th century, was a rich citizen and merchant of Lyons, not satisfied with those scanty portions of scripture doled out to the laity in divine services and yearning above all for a larger knowledge of the gospels, he obtained from two friends among the priesthood, a copy of these last and of some other portions of the scriptures translated into the Romance language, a collection also of sayings from the fathers. The whole movement remained to the end, true to this, its first motive. The desire mainly for a fuller acquaintance with the word of God, that word he now resolved to make the fuel of his life but how could conformity with this rule be best attained?
Some may be slow to receive it but there can, I think, be no doubt that Peter Waldo started very much from the same starting point as Francis of Assisi, that the most apostolic life and most nearly conformed to the pattern which the Saviour left was one of absolute renunciation of all worldly possessions. He too as the first stage sells all that he has and bestows it upon the poor. In the name which he adopts for himself and for the companions whom he presently associates with him, the same fact of the voluntary poverty as they of which above all they should embody in their life speaks out. On this side of the Alps, they are the Poor Men of Lyons; on the Italian, Poor Men of Lombardi. Before long it was brought home to him that this apostolic life was very incomplete. It was not a life of active service. The knowledge of the scriptures which he and those associated with him had obtained, they were bound also to impart.
And now he and his began to preach in the streets of Lyons, to find their ways into houses, and to itinerate country round. Waldo had no intention herein of putting himself in opposition to the church, of being a reformer in any other sense than St. Francis or St. Bernard was a reformer. When Mr. Armstrong began studying, he had no idea of starting another church, he had no idea of starting a college, he had no idea of starting a separate faith at all.
He wanted to be a quickener, that is, a reviver of a church of spiritual life. His protest was against practical mischiefs, against negligences and omissions on the part of those who should have taught the people and did not. Doctrinal protest at this time, there was none but for Rome, all form of religious earnestness were suspicious which did not spring directly from herself. A true instinct told her that such a community as was projected, going out of the bosom of the laity, drawing its spiritual life so directly from holy scripture could not in the long run work other than unfavorably for her, the mother church. In 1178, the archbishop of Lyons forbade their preaching or expounding any more. Such as did not submit had no choice but to quit Lyons and betake themselves elsewhere and thus it came to pass that not the city already so illustrious in ecclesiastical story where Eranius taught, not the city of Ababard, the same which had already given to this company their name, but the Alpine mountains must shelter these outcasts and in turn be made famous by their presence. Not the true church, though. When those valleys became famous, it was by a popular denominational reformation church.
But even after these prohibitions, Waldo did not at once renounce the hope that he might be permitted to found a religious guild within the church. Deputies of his with copy of this translation of scripture and with the rule of his proposed order found their way to Rome, humbly seeking of Pope Alexander III his sanction and allowance. An English archdeacon, Walter Mapes, who has left behind him some very clever but not always very edifying poems in the rhymed Latin of his age, if indeed they were his, was present at the papal court at that time and was one of a board who should make proof of what these men thought and report to the pope. The archdeacon relates with much glee how he prepared a theological pitfall for them. One, it must be owned sufficiently harmless in character, one into which amid the laughter of many present, these simple men whose own theology was rather of the Bible than one of the schools, did not fail at once to fall. Whether this affected the issue, I know not, but the pope counted them ignorant and unlettered, as no doubt in one sense they were, dismissed them with refusal which would have condemned to absolute silence. Unable to obtain the papal authorization, they now went forward without it. This is "running before they were sent," as Pope Lucius III lays to their charge. They were at the Council of Erona in 1183 by him put under the church's ban. But they could cite scriptures and urging words of St. James, 'to him to knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin,' they did not desist. So that was the scripture they quoted when they were forbade and kicked out of the church and commanded not to preach. So they refused to agree and go along with the excommunication.
After a while, Innocent III saw the mistakes his predecessor had committed. Under his auspices, a society was founded, 1209, embodying as much of Waldo's original intentions as was consistent with due subordination to the interest of Rome. It was his hope to absorb into this the order of poor Catholics. So you see, if you came up with some differing doctrines from the church, the pope would begin a new order of Catholics that would parallel your particular idea. He thought that by that he could swallow you up in this new order of Catholics. So he just founded this poor order of Catholics.
Waldensians Not Cathari or Manichaeans
Those who were now in danger of being estranged from the church forever. But the new order made no way, took no root. Even so potent a charmer as the great pontiff himself was unable to entangle more than a very few in the yoke from which they had escaped. Failing this, he repeated a few years later at the fourth Lateran Council in 1215, the church's sentence against the Waldenses, including them under a common ban with the Cathari and the whole rebel crowd of Manichaeans and others with whom they have so often since been confounded. So you see, this man also admits they weren't Cathari, nor are they Manichaeans.
For singularly enough, there has been a temptation from the beginning to mix up these and those. And that temptation has made itself felt not on one side only, but on both, on the side alike of foes and friends. The motive in either case is not difficult to trace. Enemies have sought to confound, so there might be imputed to the Waldenses any evil which had been brought home to the Albigenses and these last having been convicted of enormous errors in doctrines and practice, that the condemnation might embrace the Waldenses as well. Friends have sought to identify them out of the wish to recruit scanty number of witnesses for scriptural and apostolic truth in the dark ages of the truth. So you see, others just try to recruit anybody they can to keep alive that chain of apostolic truth in the dark ages.
As certainly it would prove no small numerical addition if the Albigenses might be counted among these. And yet neither then nor at any time before the Reformation was the attitude of the Waldenses to Rome or the Roman church to them exactly the same as that which ruled between her and the other bodies which secretly conspired against her or openly defied her. It is true that they were included in the same anathema as the others, that Rome endured no departure in great or small from her teaching, counted all dissidence worthy of death. All disbelievers, all who disagreed with her. They endured no departure in great or small from her teaching.
But for all this, the war between her and the Waldenses was not before the Reformation altogether the same which was waged between her and the Manichaean Cathari or the Pantheistic brethren of the free spirit. See why God said what He did in the Bible about the Church at Thyatira? Here again, this historian mentions the same thing.
So there were Pentecostal bodies back there, too. These latter were irreconcilable and never could be anything else. In their sight, Rome was simply the synagogue of Satan and either she or they must perish. The same moral universe could not hold them both. But neither in this nor in any other matter did the Waldenses own any solidarity or make common cause with the other sectaries of that time. For them, the church of Rome was a church which had grievously fallen away from the purity of the faith, which had overlaid the truth with numerous errors. But they did not deny that souls were saved in her.
Yes, in later stages, in later ages. They did not regard themselves so much a church apart as rather, the sound kernel of the church. They attended divine offices in Catholic churches when they were permitted to do so.
Their children were baptized by Catholic priests, they received the holy communion at their hands, of all which there is abundant proof. It is plain that in their sight, Rome as a church had not absolutely forfeited her right to this name. Then, too, however unfriendly Roman Catholic writers of that age may be, they bring no such charge against the Waldenses as they bring so abundantly against the other sects. Their enemies themselves being judges, their conversion was edifying. They went not to law brother with brother. Nobody would have joined them. Nobody would have fought against them.
They didn't seek to grow rich, but lived and were well content to live by the labor of their hands, the whole fashion of their lives a rebuke to the unholy living of too many calling themselves Catholics, nor least to the conversation of not a few who ministered in the holiest things, it would have been impossible, as a modern Roman Catholic historian admits, to get up a crusade against them.
Waldensians Termed Cathari 'Devils'
"Those who have the same enemies are not therefore friends." That's quite a simple statement. Just because the Baptists, Methodists and Lutherans have the same one mother, or the same one against whom they protested, does that make them friends of one another? Well then, why should you think the Cathari and the Manichaeans and everyone opposed to the Catholic church should be agreeable to each other, which they weren't?
Better Versed Biblically Then Priests
But admitting this, so long as the Cathari were a menace and a danger to the Roman church, the intense aversion of the Waldenses to these 'devils'. And that, they put in quotes. That is the term they used for Cathari. The Waldenses used that term of the Cathari — devils.
For so they called them, they must have constituted some sort of bond between the church and them. Certainly it is not a little curious to read in a treatise written against them that oftentimes the priest, being engaged in controversy with the Manichaean, invoked the aid of a Waldensian as better versed in the scripture than himself. By whose help he wanted to convince this Manichaean gainsayer. That's really something, isn't it? This Catholic bishop, this Catholic priest, in trying to win over one of these Manichaeans, would call in a Waldensian to help him in citing and quoting the scriptures to show these Manichaeans where they were wrong. That's a direct statement from this particular church history.
Witness Confounds Persecutors
"The bishop of Kavayon once obliged a teaching monk to enter into conference with them that they might be convinced of their errors and the effusion of blood might be prevented. This happened during a persecution in 1541 in Merindal and Provence. But the monk returned in confusion, owning that he had never known in his whole life, so much of the scriptures as he had learned in those few days in which he had held conference with the heretics. The bishop, however, sent among them a number of doctors, young men who had lately come from Sasbun at Paris, which was renown for theological subtilty. One of them openly owned that he had understood more of the doctrine of salvation from the answers of little children in their catechism than by all the disputations which he had ever heard." This is the testimony of Visabecius in his oration concerning the Waldenses. The same author informs us further that Louis XII importuned by the calumnies of informers sent two respectable persons into Provence to make inquiries. They reported that in visiting all their parishes and temples, they found no images or Roman ceremonies but that they could not discover any marks of the crimes with which they were charged, that the Sabbath day was strictly observed, that the children were baptized according to the rules of the primitive church and instructed in the articles of the Christian faith and the commandments of God. Louis, having heard the report, declared with an oath, they are better men than myself or my people.12 Notice! The Waldenses were Sabbath keepers! Remember in the encyclopedias we read they were called Sabbati or Insabbati or Insabatati. These were several names by which they were known, and as I mentioned at the time, this really wasn't because of the sandals they wore. We prove that by quotes from regular histories about the type of sandals, type of language spoken, and other things! So they themselves maintained the name, Church of God, the true Bible name! But they were referred to by the world as Voidaus. Why is not the same name preserved by churches which claim to trace their history through them?
Passover Annually, Saturday Sabbath
A History of the True Church, by Dugger and Dodd, reveals: Voidaus, known as such by the world, but holding to the true Bible name, were persecuted for the true faith. They observed the seventh day of the week according to the commandments, immersed their believers, and kept the Passover or the Lord's Supper once a year in the first month.
Saturday Sabbaths Condemned
And the second purpose for this council was necessitated because, "We note that in this century there were so many Christians observing Saturday Sabbath that this council also found it necessary to legislate against it." And that was in the days of the Bogomils.
Dugger and Dodd quote the historian Hugh Smith. This historian further says, 'The year 692, Justinian II called the 6th general council to convene at Constantinople as an imperial order from him. It condemned the Saturdays.'
Dugger and Dodd quote from Rankin's History of France:
Their enemies confirmed their great antiquity. Rinerius Sacko, an inquisitor and one of their implacable enemies who lived only 80 years after Waldo, admits that the Waldenses flourished 500 years before that preacher. In 600 A.D., Gretzer, the Jesuit who also wrote against the Waldenses and had examined the subject fully, not only admits their great antiquity, but declares his firm belief that the Talucians and Albigenses were none other than the Waldenses. That's a fact. Some of the Albigenses were merely the Waldenses of Southern France, but the great name Albigenses that applied to the beginning of the reformation in Southern France wasn't dealing with the original Albigenses whatsoever!
Three hundred years elapsed between the Crusade and the Reformation. During these centuries, those escaped the Waldenses dwelled among Eastern France and Savoy, isolated and forgotten. Great ignorance came upon them as is testified by the literature from them that has survived and in time they so far forgot the doctrines of their forefathers that many of the writers put so little difference between themselves and the Romanists. [So he said they became so much different, they became a great deal like the Romanists.]
Some of the old spirit remained however, so that when in 1532 a pseudo-Baptist creed was adopted under the guidance of Swiss reformers, a large minority refused to be bound by this new creed, declaring it to be a reversal of their previous belief. [So you see he wanted to get back to whether they baptized infants or not. That is his whole purpose but you know, by stating this, he actually condemns his own history because he states that what the latter Baptists believed was not only changed from what the Waldensians believed when they fled into the valleys of Piedmont.]
Early Waldensians Baptized Adults Only
On the whole then the balance of evidence is in favor of the conclusion that the early followers of Waldo taught and practised the baptism of believers only. [Since kids cannot really be baptized, rather than get in trouble with the authorities, let them be baptized. It doesn't make any difference. It is just a swimming.]
Allowed Children to be Baptized Dr. Keller, the latest and most candid investigator on the subject holds this view: 'Very many Waldenses considered as we know accurately, the baptism on profession of faith to be that form which is conformable to the words and example of Christ. They held this to be the sign of the covenant of a good conscience with God. And it was said to them that it had value only as such. This belief would logically exclude infant baptism, and accordingly,' Dr. Keller tells us, 'mostly they let their children be baptized by Romish priests yet with the reservation that this ceremony was null and void anyway.'
Ancestors of Anabaptists
Maintaining these views, they were the spiritual ancestors to the Anabaptists churches were the most numerous precisely where the Waldenses were a century or two previously had most flourished and where their identity as Waldenses had been lost. That there was an intimate relation between the two movements few doubt who have studied this period and its literature. The torch of truth was handed on from generation to generation and though it often smoldered and was even apparently extinguished.13
Baptists' Views We learn the Baptists views from Baptist Succession. Hand Book of Baptist History by Dr. Ray:
The name Waldenses was originally applied to the inhabitants of the valleys of the Alps...But in aftertimes, it was applied to that class of Christians everywhere who embraced the same views with the inhabitants of the valleys. This name has sometimes been applied by the Roman Catholics with such latitude as to embrace all the sects which opposed the doctrines of Rome. [Not by the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Americana, the New International Encyclopedia, Johnson's Chambers, the Catholic Encyclopedia, and 90% of them we have just read. So this Baptist historian says, this position is now almost universally abandoned. He should print in there, "by Baptists." They really ought to add that clarification!]
Therefore, in the perusal of the pages of history, you find the term Waldenses applied to parties of almost every denominational cast.
And a failure to observe the proper distinction of this name has led some historians to incorrect conclusions as regards the doctrines of the Waldenses.
It is claimed by some that the Waldenses derive their name from one Peter Waldo, a merchant of Lyons who lived in the 12th century but this position is almost now universally abandoned.
Baptist Historians Quote Baptist Historians?
It is a historic fact, fully laid out that the name Waldenses was applied to the inhabitants of the valleys as a religious community long before the time of Peter Waldo. Mr. Jones, the historian says, 'It is also proved from their books that they existed as Waldenses before the time of Peter Waldo who preached about the year 1160.' And on the same point, Mr. Waddington remarks... [Mr. Waddington – who's he? Another Baptist historian? You might know for sure he was a Baptist historian.] So also is Mr. Jones.
We may not fall into the error of Mosheim who ascribes the origin of that sect to an individual named Waldes, Peter Waldes, or Waldenses, a native of Lyons, was a layman and a merchant...He commenced his ministry about the year 1180, having previously caused several parts of the scriptures to be translated into the vulgar tongue, he expounded them to an attentive body of disciples both in France and Lombardy. In the course of his exertions, he probably [Where is the proof?] visited the valleys of Piedmont and there he found people of congenial spirits. They were called Vaudois or Waldenses, men of the valleys and as the preaching of Peter, may probably have confirmed their opinions and cemented their discipline. He acquired and deserved his surname by his residence among them. At the same time their connection with Peter and his real Leonese disciples established their identity and the Vaudois in return for the title which they had bestowed, received the reciprocal name of Leonists, such at least appears the most probable. [Now that is really a good solid proof. That's really strong, isn't it? That's really powerful Baptist history.]
There are some who believe the Vaudois to have enjoyed the uninterrupted integrity of the faith even from the apostolic ages. Others supposed them to have been disciples of Claudius Turin. [Who is Robinson? Maybe a Baptist historian again? This Baptist historian has never quoted any encyclopedias! They wouldn't do that — they couldn't.]
The evangelical prelate of the 9th century at least it may be pronounced with great certainty that they had been long in existence before the visit of the Lyonese reformer. It would appear from these accounts that Peter, the merchant of Lyons, received the name Waldes from the Waldenses and not the Waldenses their name from him. The same is confirmed by Robinson...
From the Latin, valice, came the English — valley; and French and Spanish — vallee; the Italian valdese; the low Dutch, vallei; the Provincal, vaud, vaudois; the ecclesiastical, vallenses, Valdenses, or Waldenses. The words simply signify valleys, the inhabitants of valleys and no more. It appears that the inhabitants of the valleys of the Pyrenees did not profess the Catholic faith, and also that the inhabitants of the valleys about the Alps did not embrace it. It happened however, in the 9th century that one Valdo, a friend and counsellor of Berengarius and a man of eminence who had many followers, did not approve of papal discipline and doctrine. It came to pass about 130 years after, that a rich merchant of Lyons who was called Valdes, because he had received his religious notions from the inhabitants of the valleys, openly disavowed the Roman religion, supported many to teach the doctrines believed in the valleys and became the instrument of the conversion of great numbers. All these people were called Waldenses and hence it came to pass that some contended that they were Manichaeans and Arians and others, that they were the direct opposite. Notwithstanding, the name Waldenses originally designated the inhabitants of certain Alpine valleys, yet it finally became the general name of a large body of Christians inhabiting many countries.15
Church of God Jones' Church History quotes the Edict of Il de Fonces, king of Aragon, Spain in the year 1194 from Pigna's directory of the inquisitors:
Some general remarks, 'here we are suddenly called upon to vindicate the claim which this people made to the honorable character of the Church of God.' [Notice what they said — Church of God. They did not say Baptist, Church of Christ, or Jehovah Witness.]
Witness Confounds Persecutors
The bishop of Kavayon once obliged a teaching monk to enter into conference with them that they might be convinced of their errors and the effusion of blood might be prevented. This happened during a persecution in 1541 in Merindal and Provence. But the monk returned in confusion, owning that he had never known in his whole life, so much of the scriptures as he had learned in those few days in which he had held conference with the heretics. The bishop, however, sent among them a number of doctors, young men who had lately come from Sasbun at Paris, which was renown for theological subtilty. One of them openly owned that he had understood more of the doctrine of salvation from the answers of little children in their catechism than by all the disputations which he had ever heard. This is the testimony of Visabecius in his oration concerning the Waldenses. The same author informs us further that Louis XII, importuned by the calumnies of informers, sent two respectable persons into Provence to make inquiries. They reported that in visiting all their parishes and temples, they found no images or Roman ceremonies but that they could not discover any marks of the crimes with which they were charged, that the Sabbath day was strictly observed, that the children were baptized according to the rules of the primitive church and instructed in the articles of the Christian faith and the commandments of God. Louis, having heard the report, declared with an oath, they are better men than myself or my people.16 Notice! The Waldenses were Sabbath keepers! Remember in several names by which they were known, and as I mentioned at the time, this really wasn't because of the sandals they wore. We prove that by quotes from regular histories about the type of sandals, type of language spoken, and other things! So they themselves maintained the name, Church of God, the true Bible name! But they were referred to by the world as Vaudois. Why is not the same name preserved by churches which claim to trace their history through them?
Passover Annually, Saturday Sabbath
A History of the True Church, by Dugger and Dodd, reveals: Vaudois, known as such by the world, but holding to the true Bible name, were persecuted for the true faith. They observed the seventh day of the week according to the commandments, immersed their believers, and kept the Passover or the Lord's Supper once a year in the first month.
Saturday Sabbaths Condemned
Dugger and Dodd quote the historian Hugh Smith: This historian further says, "The year 692, Justinian II called the 6th general council to convene at Constantinople as an imperial order from him. It condemned the Saturdays...And the second purpose for this council was necessitated because, 'We note that in this century there were so many Christians observing Saturday Sabbath that this council also found it necessary to legislate against it.'
And that was in the days of the Bogomils. Their enemies confirmed their great antiquity. Rinerius Sacko, an inquisitor and one of their implacable enemies who lived only 80 years after Waldo, admits that the Waldenses flourished 500 years before that preacher. In 600 A.D., Gretzer, the Jesuit who also wrote against the Waldenses and had examined the subject fully, not only admits their great antiquity, but declares his firm belief that the Talucians and Albigenses were none other than the Waldenses. That's a fact. Some of the Albigenses were merely the Waldenses of Southern France, but the great name Albigenses that applied to the beginning of the reformation in Southern France wasn't dealing with the original Albigenses whatsoever!
Dugger and Dodd quote from Rankin's History of France:
That's another point of God's Church. It has always been willing to admit where it is wrong, and to change.
The quote from Rankin's History continues: In fact, their doctrine, discipline, government, manners and even the errors with which they have been charged by the Catholics showed that the Albigenses and the Waldenses were distinguished branches of the same sect or that the former, the Albigenses, sprang from the latter, the Waldenses.17
This time Jones quotes from Wylie, History of the Waldenses: How delightful and quiet the order of their town and the air of happiness on the faces of the people. 'In a confession of the faith, one of the members of the Waldenses declared that they believed the doctrine contained in the Old and New Testament and comprehended in the Apostles' Creed and admitted the sacraments instituted by Christ and the Ten Commandments.'
Not just nine or eight, or the first four — but ten! They said they had received this doctrine from their ancestors and that if they were in any error they were ready to receive instructions from the Word of God.
Theodore Beza, a colleague and contemporary of Calvin, says 'As for the Waldenses I may be permitted to call them the very seed of the primitive and pure Christian Church and as for their religion, they never adhered to papal superstition. They derived their name from Vaudois or Waldenses from Peter Waldo, one of their barbs or preachers. His immediate followers were called Waldenses, but this was rather a renovation of the name from a particular cause than its original. Accordingly it extends over that district only in France where Peter Waldo preached.' So here he makes the distinction that the immediate followers of Peter Waldo and the ones in the district of France where Peter Waldo preached were the ones over who were named Vaudois.
In other districts, the people were branches of the same original sect as in Dophin were from a noted preacher called Josephus. In Languidoc, they were called Henricians and in other provinces from Peter Bruys, they were called Petrobrusians. Some of us don't weigh up to the Waldenses too well, do we? What about you — are you punctual in paying your debts? Do you gripe about paying taxes? Your neighbors' don't know the technicality of your doctrines, but they know whether you will help them when they need help. Whether you are kind and friendly, and whether you care about them when they are sick.
Good Neighbor, Paid Debts They were very peaceable people, beloved by their neighbors, men of good behaviour, of Godly conversation, faithful to their promises and punctual in paying their debts.
That they were men over-liberal to strangers and the traveling poor as far as their ability extended. Does that sound familiar? How much do the churches who claim to trace their history through these Waldensians talk about overcoming?
They were a people who could not endure to blaspheme or to name the devil or swear at all unless in making some solemn contracts or judgment. Finally, they were known by this, if they happened to be cast into any company where the conversation was lascivious or blasphemous to the dishonor of God, they instantly withdrew.
From Jones' Church History we read: Claudius Cecilius, archbishop of Turin, is pleased to say that 'Their heresies excepted, they generally live a purer life than other Christians.'
They never swear but by compulsion. They fulfil their promises with punctuality and living for the most part in poverty, they profess to live the apostolic life and doctrine and also profess it to be their desire to overcome.
So you notice right here in this Jones' Church History, he makes the same statement we have proven from different histories in the past and that is these were the same people.
Sometimes they received their name from their manners as Catharists, which is their language for Puritans and from the foreign country from whence it was presumed they had been expelled they were called Bulgarians or Googers. In Italy, they were commonly called Fratfesel, that is, man of the brotherhood because they cultivated brotherly love among themselves, acknowledging one another as brethren in Christ. Sometimes they were denominated Paulicians and by corruption of the word, Paulicians, considering them as sprung from that ancient sect which in the 7th century spread over Armenia and Thrace. Notice even this Church Historian, Jones, traces the history of the Waldenses back through the Henricians, the Petrobrusians, the Bogomils, the Bulgarians and the Paulicians.
These Paulicians in Armenia and Thrace when persecuted by the Greek emperor, migrated into Europe and mingled with the Waldenses in Piedmont. Sometimes they were named from the country or city in which they prevailed as Lombardist, Talusian and Albigensian. These branches however sprang from one common stock and were animated by the same religious and moral principals. They professed it to be their desire, their goal in life, their ambition, to overcome.
Perrin's History of the Waldenses: A memorial presented to the court of Savoy by Morock and Murock, counsellors of the state, of Zurich and Bern, Switzerland, states in part: [quoting from a legal document] 'We find ourselves obliged to represent to the royal highness that the churches of the valleys in Piedmont did not separate themselves from the religion of their princes.' They did not separate themselves from the Catholic Church. They also profess it to be their desire to overcome only by the simplicity of faith, by purity of conscience, and integrity of life, not by philosophical niceties and theological subtilties.
He very candidly admits that 'In their lives and morals, they were perfect, irreproachable and without reproach among men, addicting themselves with all their might to observe the commandments of God.' Does that sound like they kept the Sabbath? I wonder what the churches say if you quote this history of the Waldenses, when they believe that all the laws were nailed to the cross?
Quote Books of the Bible
Jones' Church History continues: Jacobus de Riberia who in his time assisted in persecuting the Waldenses says of them: 'They were so well instructed in the scriptures that he had seen peasants who could recite the book of Job verbatim and several others who could perfectly repeat all the New Testament.'
Jones quoting Paul Therene says: 'For purity and communion, they were called Puritans. The name of Patarines was given to the Waldenses, and, who for the most part held the same opinions and have therefore been taken for one and the same class of people who continued till the Reformation under the name of Patarines, or Waldenses. There was no difference in religious views between the Albigenses and the Waldenses. All of those people inhabiting the South of France were called in general, Albigenses. And in doctrine and manner, were not distinct from the Waldenses.' The celebrated Matthew Fransuit says the Waldenses scent a little of Anabaptism.
The next branch of the true church is here named. The Waldenses were in religious sentiments, substantially the same as the Paulicians, the Patarines, Puritans and the Albigenses. Notice! This celebrated historian makes the same statement we have been quoting out of all these encyclopedias. That the Waldenses in their religious doctrines were substantially the same as the Paulicians and Albigenses.
FOOTNOTES FOR CHAPTER V
11. William Jones, The History of the Christian Church, (Wetumpka: Charles Yancy, 1845)
12. Edward Backhouse and Charles Taylor, Witnesses For Christ, (London: Hamilton, Adams Co., 1887), Vol. II, p. 486-507
13. A. N. Dugger, A History of the True Church, (Salem: Dugger & Dodd, 1936), p. 101
14. Henry C. Vedder, A Short History of the Baptists, (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1891), p. 70-71
15. D. B. Ray, Baptist Succession, (Cincinnati: George E. Stevens, 1871), p. 107-109
16. Jones, op. cit.
17. Dugger, op. cit., p. 101