THE WALDENSES & THE ALBIGENSES – Defending the Pilgrim Church
Since the release of our film, “A Lamp in the Dark,” we have had many comments on the information concerning those who are called “The Pilgrim Church.” The term does not just refer to the Pilgrim believers who came to America, but to the whole body of Bible believing Christians through the centuries who were never a part of the Roman Catholic system. The two chief groups were the Waldenses and the Albigenses. Rome waged the most dreadful and bloody persecutions against these Bible believers for centuries, almost completely wiping them out; but not before they had powerfully influenced the Reformers. In our film, we present a brief overview of these groups, but in this article we will defend their faith against the false accusations against them.
CONFLICT WITH ROME
Before studying this issue, any researcher must consider that these non-Catholic groups have been a thorn in the flesh of the Papacy for more than a thousand years. They have stood as a continual witness against Rome, exposing her as an apostate, blood drunken harlot, who has falsified the Gospel, bowed herself to idols, and continually exalted a mere man (the Pope) in place of God and Christ Himself.
Let’s begin by considering this quote from the 19th century work, “The History of the Christian Church” by William Jones:
“I conceived that it was well becoming a Christian to undertake
the defence of innocence, oppressed and overborne by the blackest
calumnies the devil could ever invent. That we should be
ungrateful towards those whose sufferings for Christ have been
so beneficial to his church, should we not take care to justify
their memory, when we see it so maliciously bespattered and torn.
“That to justify the Waldenses and Albigenses, is indeed to
defend the Reformation and Reformers, they having so long
before us, with an exemplary courage, labored to preserve the
Christian religion in its ancient purity, which the Church of Rome
all this while has endeavored to abolish … So long as the ministers
of the Church of Rome think fit to follow his conduct who was
a liar and a murderer from the beginning, innocence should
not be deprived of the privilege of defending herself …”
(Jones, “History of the Christian Church,” pp. viii-ix)
THE BATTLEFIELD OF HISTORY
The Vatican’s chief argument against Protestantism is that the Roman Church was the only church until the days of Martin Luther and King Henry VIII. Catholics are told that Luther wanted to marry a nun, Henry wanted a divorce, and hence, the Protestant Reform began! That’s the pope’s version of history. This, of course, is intended to make the Reformation appear to be a shallow movement inspired by the uncontrolled lust in the hearts of men. One only need look to Rome’s modern day pedophile priests, and study its centuries-old history of perversions against humanity to see which system is truly driven by ungodly lust. We cannot help but agree with the Reformers, who saw Rome as Mystery Babylon, the great whore of Revelation 17:
“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet
color … having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations
and filthiness of her fornication.” (Revelation 17:4)
Yet, to defend her ideas, Rome has re-written histories and biographies for hundreds of years, in order to teach her lies about Church history to the masses. In our upcoming documentary, “Tares Among the Wheat,” we intend to show how the Jesuits have specifically corrupted history as part of the Counter Reformation. British historian, Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) once said that:
“Jesuitism has poisoned the wellsprings of truth in the
whole world.” (Source: The Secret of Catholic Power, by
L.H. Lehmann, p. 14)
His words seem to be the further fulfillment of the warnings of scripture:
“… for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.”
Furthermore, in the 20th century, researcher Albert Close warned of the manipulation by Rome of historical records in England. He wrote:
“Both parents and Educational Authorities will need in the future
to be carefully on their guard against the attempt of the Church of
Rome to falsify the history of the Reformation and Puritan
Periods in school books.” (Source: “Jesuit Plots from Elizabethan
to Modern Times,” by Albert Close, p. 167)
Close went on to say:
“There can be no shadow of doubt that the Jesuits and
the Anglo-Romanist party in Britain have gained great
influence … The continuous propagation of Roman superstition
and false Roman Catholic history in both news and letters,
and the almost complete suppression of Protestant news
and authentic history based upon State Papers, shows
that some powerful, organized body must be behind it ….
Nearly all books of a distinctly Protestant character are
ignored or slurred over to-day by reviewers, whilst books
advocating Romanism … or Roman Catholic history,
are sedulously propagated and recommended.”
(Ibid, “Jesuit Plots,” p. 169)
And so it is that when the casual researcher goes to Wikipedia (or some other mainstream source) and reads about the Waldenses or the Albigenses, they are usually reading the Roman Catholic version of history. It’s just that most people don’t know it. Rome’s history usually teaches that these peace loving people held to certain Gnostic beliefs, usually to Dualism and/or some form of Manicheanism. This view might be unobjectionable, if not for the fact that Protestant witnesses and historians have lifted up a shout in defense of these groups for nearly a thousand years.
Most all of the Reformers wrote about early, non-Catholic, Christian groups that traced themselves back to the time of the Apostles. Author, Dave Hunt wrote:
“For at least a thousand years before the Reformation
the true church was composed of multitudes of simple
Christians who were not part of the Roman system. That
such believers existed, refused to be called ‘Catholics,’ and
worshiped independently of the Roman hierarchy is history.
It is a fact that they were pursued to imprisonment and death
since at least the end of the fourth century.” (A Woman
Rides the Beast, by Dave Hunt, p. 254)
Hunt’s reference to the fourth century is significant, because it was in that century that Roman Catholicism was established, beginning with Constantine the Great who legalized Christianity, causing it to eventually become the state religion. From that time forward, the pagan traditions of Rome were blended with Christian names, titles and doctrines. This is the origin of Roman Catholicism or “Roman Universalism.”
THE TRIPLE TYRANT
After the Roman Empire was sacked by the ten barbarian tribes, the popes emerged from the rubble, and combined the authority of Caesar, who was called Pontifex Maximus (the Pontiff) with the authority of Christ, using the title Vicarius Christi (Vicar of Christ) meaning “the substitute of Christ.” Through the Papacy, the claims of spiritual power over heaven and hell were combined with the temporal power of Caesar. In time, the Pope would overthrow three of the barbarian kings, from which it is said he gained his triple crown. According to Historicist scholars like J.A. Wylie, this was in fulfillment of Daniel 7:8. Hence, Milton would name the Pope, “the Triple Tyrant.”
While putting the pieces of the historic puzzle together are challenging, it seems clear that many Christians from the fourth century onward recognized the apostate nature of this new religious system, and shunned it. As a result, they would be persecuted, slandered and killed. It is generally believed that they fled persecution into the north of Italy and south of France, many of them settling in the valleys of the Piedmont.
BATTLE FOR THE BIBLE
A chief object of contention was the Bible. The scriptures had forewarned of the harlotry of Rome (Revelation 17:18); and of the antichrist spirit that inspires it (2 John 7-9), and also the doctrines of devils contained therein (1 Timothy 4:1-3). The Bible believing groups lifted up a shout against Rome’s apostasy; and as a result, the popes outlawed the reading and translating of holy writ, even declaring that the Bible inspired heresy. For an in-depth look at how this history unfolded over the centuries, we recommend watching “A Lamp in the Dark,” or our shorter version, “The Untold History of the Bible.”
Next, we come to the main point of our article, an examination of the two groups that have been hated by Rome for more than a thousand years: the Waldenses & the Albigenses.
THE WALDENSES (also known as Vaudois)
The name Vaudois means “people of the valley,” and refers to those who dwelt in the valleys of the Piedmont in Northern Italy. These people, who would be later called “Waldenses” were said to trace themselves back to the second century, to the time of the Apostles.
Because Rome’s persecutions against them were so many, and continued for centuries, most of the written materials this group produced were burned by the Inquisition. This is important to remember when studying the works of the “early church fathers.” Rome only kept those writings that in some way supported her own doctrines, and sought to destroy all the rest. Yet a document known as “Le Noble Lecon” has survived, and is said to be a kind of confession of faith for the Vaudois. It says, in part:
“Oh brothers, listen to a noble lesson;
We must watch and be diligent in prayer,
Because we see the world is approaching its end.
Already eleven hundred years have run their course
Since it was written, ‘these are the last times.’
But no man will know, when the end is to come.
We have all the more to fear. We do not know
If death will call us today or tomorrow.
But when Christ comes on the Day of Judgment
Each will receive his reward;
As well, he who has done evil as he who had done good.
If we desire to love Christ and learn His doctrine
We must watch and search the Scriptures.
If we read them, we shall find,
That Christ was persecuted because He did good.
There are still many in our times
Who wish to teach the way of Christ,
But they are persecuted and can do but little.
False Christians are so blinded by error,
And particularly the teachers themselves,
That they ill-use and kill those who are better than themselves.
On the contrary they let the evil live in peace.
By this we may know that they are not good shepherds,
They love the sheep only for their wool.
If anyone loves God, and fears Jesus Christ,
And does not bear false witness, nor swear nor lie,
And does not commit adultery, nor kill, nor does violence,
Nor revenge himself on his enemies,
They say, ‘He is a Vaudois; he merits death!’
(Source: “The Martyrdom of a People, or The
Vaudois of Piedmont and their History” by
Henry Fliedner, from the 1914 Edition)
The name “Waldenses” is said to come from differing origins. Some believe it was derived from the name “Vaudois,” while others believe it was adopted because of the 12th century leader, Peter Waldo. Waldo was responsible for an early translation of the Scriptures into what was known as the Romaunt language (a combination of Middle English and Old French), which had become the language of the Waldensian church.
WITNESS OF THE REFORMERS
As stated before, nearly all of the Reformers defended the Waldenses and Albigenses for being true Christians, who had been wronged by Rome. Here are just a few examples:
“Luther, in the year 1533, published the Confessions of the
Waldenses, to which he wrote a preface. In this preface, he
candidly acknowledges that, in the days of his popery, he had
hated the Waldenses, as persons who were consigned over
to perdition. But having understood from their confessions
and writings the piety of their faith, he perceived that those
good men had been greatly wronged whom the Pope had
condemned as heretics; for that, on the contrary, they were
rather entitled to the praise due to holy martyrs. He adds
that among them he had found one thing worthy of admiration,
a thing unheard of in the popish church, that, laying aside
the doctrines of men, they meditated in the law of God,
day and night; and that they were expert, and even well versed
in the knowledge of the Scriptures …”
(Source: “The History of the Waldenses,” by William
Jones, Vol. II, p. 79)
The famed Puritan writer, John Milton (1608-1674) who is best known as the author of Paradise Lost, was also known for defending the Waldenses as true Christians. In his poem, “On the Late Massacre in Piedmont,” Milton wrote this about the Waldenses who had been betrayed and martyred by one of the Pope’s armies:
“Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones …”
Note how Milton says that the Waldenses “kept … truth so pure of old” by which, he meant God’s truth in the Gospel. He says they did this “when all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones.” The reference to “stocks and stones” is a reference to idols. A “stock” is a block of wood from whence an image would be carved; a stone served the same purpose. In Jeremiah, God reproves the children of Israel:
“… so is the house of Israel ashamed … Saying to
a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou
hast brought me forth …” (Jeremiah 2:26-27)
And so, what Milton is saying is that while the rest of Europe had turned aside from the truth faith to the harlotry of the Popes and idols of the Roman Church, the Waldenses had kept the pure truth of the Gospel. This was also agreed to by William Jones in his record of Church history, where he writes that:
“… while midnight darkness sat enthroned over almost
every portion of the globe the Waldenses, which is only
another name for the inhabitants of these vallies, preserved
the gospel among them in its native purity, and rejoiced
in its glorious light.” (Jones, “The History of the Christian
Church,” p. 467)
Like the Waldenses, it is also believed that “… the Albigenses had been in the valleys of France from the earliest ages of Christianity.” (Source: “A History of the Baptists,” by John T. Christian)
The Albigenses were so named because of the city of Albi in France, with which they were associated. It was this group that inspired the launch of the Great Inquisition in the days of Dominic Guzman, today known as “Saint Dominic” in the Catholic Church. It was specifically because of Dominic’s doctrinal conflicts with the Albigenses that he would form the Dominican Order, which became the bloodthirsty priesthood that would later govern the Inquisition across Europe.
The Albigenses were also known as “Cathars.” The name Cathar comes from the Greek word Katharos meaning “clean” or “pure.” Some even translate the word to mean “Puritans,” and this idea seems to show one of many connections between these early believers, to the Reformation and the later development of Protestantism.
NEW AGE ASSOCIATIONS
Today, a tremendous amount of information can be found on the Internet, declaring the beliefs of the Cathars to be in agreement with all kinds of heretical, New Age ideas. But this was not what was believed about them by the Reformers. To give a comparison, one could also find countless books, websites, essays and commentaries about Jesus and the Apostles, teaching that they held to mystical ideas that are decidedly anti-Christian. It is important to remember that (as with the Waldenses) most of the Cathar/Albigensian writings were destroyed by the Inquisition. Furthermore, most of the “documentation” against them comes from their enemies who persecuted, tortured and mass murdered them.
While they were condemned by Rome overall, there are times when Catholic sources shine a light of truth concerning them. For example, while Dominic condemned the Cathars as heretics, he also spoke of their “zealous preaching” and “apostolic humility,” as well as the austerity of their lives. The following is the testimony of a thirteenth century friar named James Capelli, who was lector at a Franciscan convent in Milan. Writing in about 1240 A.D., (some 30 years after the Inquisition against them began) he specifically confronted the fact that many rumors and slanders were spoken against the Cathars, which he believed were false:
“… the rumor of the fornication which is said to prevail
among them is most false. For it is true that once a month,
either by day or by night, in order to avoid gossip by the people,
men and women meet together, not, as some lyingly say,
for purposes of fornication, but so that they may hear
preaching and make confession to their presiding official,
as though from his prayers pardon for their sins would ensue.
They are wrongfully wounded in popular rumor by many
malicious charges of blasphemy from those who say that they
commit many shameful and horrid acts of which they are
innocent. And, therefore, they vaunt themselves to be disciples
of Christ, who said, ‘If they have persecuted me, they will
also persecute you,’ and, ‘You shall be hated by all men for
my name’s sake.’ And, indeed, they believe fulfilled in
them the text, ‘Blessed are ye when they shall revile you
and reproach you and speak all that is evil against you
untruly for my sake.’”
(Source: Heresies of the High Middle Ages, by Walter
Legett Wakefield & Austin Patterson Evans, pp. 305-306)
In his “History of the Christian Church,” Jones writes that, even according to the Inquisitors, the Albigenses were not guilty of any wrong doing. He writes:
“… it is remarkable that in the examination of these
people, they … were condemned for speculations, or
rather for virtuous rules of action, which all in power
accounted heresies. They said a Christian church ought
to consist of only good people; a church had no power
to frame any constitutions; it was not right to take oaths;
it was not lawful to kill mankind; a man ought not to
be delivered up to the officers of justice to be converted;
the benefits of society belong alike to all the members
of it; faith without works could not save a man; the church
ought not to persecute any, even the wicked: -- the law
of Moses was no rule for Christians; there was no need
of priests, especially of wicked ones; the sacraments, and
orders, and ceremonies of the church of Rome were
futile, expensive, oppressive, and wicked …”
(Source: “The History of the Christian Church,” by
William Jones, p. 455).”
THE MANICHEAN ACCUSATION
David Cloud, in his book, “Rome & the Bible” documents some of the history of how Rome attempted to justify the Inquisition by accusing her victims of Gnostic/Manichean heresy. He writes that:
“… the Roman Catholic authorities falsely labeled many
Bible-believing people in later centuries – such as the Albigenses
and the Waldensians – as Manicheans.”
(David W. Cloud, Rome & the Bible, p. 60)
Cloud goes on to document the following:
“Respected Baptist historian John Christian makes the
following comments: ‘It is now clearly known that the Paulicans
were not Manicheans …. the same thing may probably be said
of the Albigenses. The Albigenses were oppressed on account
of this sentiment, which accusation was also made against the
Waldenses. Care must be taken on this point, and too prompt
credence should not be given to the accuser. The Roman Catholic
Church sought diligently for excuses to persecute. Even Luther
was declared by the Synod of Sens to be a Manichean. The
celebrated Archbishop Usher says that the charge ‘of Manicheanism
on the Albigensian sect is evidently false.’”
(Rome & the Bible, by David W. Cloud, p. 60; citing Acland,
The Glorious Recovery of the Vadois, 1xvii, London, 1857)
THE WITNESS OF AN ENEMY
Even the famed Enlightenment philosopher, Voltaire, who was an avowed enemy of Christianity, acknowledged the generally held view concerning these earlier bible believing groups. Consistent with other testimonies, Voltaire reveals that the name “Manichean” was given to anyone who was declared a heretic by Rome. When writing about the injustices of centuries past, he said:
“Furthermore, there were men who wanted no law
but the gospels, and who preached ideas almost the same
as those held today by the Protestants. They were called Vaudois
(Waldenses), because they were numerous in the valleys
of Piedmont; Albigensians, from the town of Albi; Goodmen,
from the consistent goodness of their lives; and finally
Manicheans, the name then given to heretics in general.”
(Of the Crusade Against the People of the Languedoc,
by Voltaire, 1756, emphasis added)
Again, we draw attention to the fact that the name “Manichean” was “given to heretics in general.” As David Cloud showed earlier, even Martin Luther was called a Manichean. While most of the writings of the Albigensians and Waldensians have been destroyed, those of Luther have not. We know what he believed, and his doctrine was clearly not Manicheanism.
In closing, I would encourage anyone who truly desires to know more about this very important part of Church history to do their own investigation. But please remember that as you study, you will encounter two versions of history: one by Rome, the other by Protestant Christians. It is the conviction of this writer not to trust the witness of Romanism, or of those who are inclined toward her. We are persuaded that this is that great harlot of prophetic warning, who serves the father of lies and deceives all nations. While we know of none but God who can boast a perfect and inerrant record of history, we gladly cast our confidence toward those who have carried the faith of Christ through the centuries, whose number is large and whose memory is eternal.
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