The Catholic Church then and now
Revelation 2:18-29 “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
Reformation scholars ascribe the words of Christ to the “church in Thyatira” as the Catholic Church. And in this passage we read words of comfort, encouragement, and of warning. A key component that is readily seen in the history of the Catholic Church is when Jesus said, “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and THE LAST TO BE MORE THAN THE FIRST” (v.19).
It is based on this prophecy that we need to address the historical changes that have taken place within the Catholic Church. While the doctrines evangelizing sin haven’t changed, the LORD has known His Own throughout the history of the church. And today we see many souls within the Catholic Church who have taken up the banner of gratitude toward Christ and the charity He calls for from all men while living up to the light of their understanding as Paul so clearly stated: “Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” Rom.2:15.
So, what we want to see is how Christ’s words came to pass in how the latter works today far exceed the former works of old. We will look at one moment of history from the dark ages and compare this tyrannical spirit, so common during those dark centuries with the works we see today from the devout within the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church Then:
Tomás de Torquemada was a most brutal, intolerant man in an age of intolerant men. A Jew, born into a family of converts to Catholicism, he would later turn his fury against his own people.
After studying theology at the Dominican convent of San Pablo in Valladolid, he became prior of Santa Cruz convent in Segovia. He also became confessor to the royal court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. There he whispered in the ears of the King and Queen that many Jewish converts were secretly practicing Judaic rites while outwardly pretending to be good Catholics.
He helped the royal couple request the Holy See for an inquisition into this matter. The request was granted. In 1483, Torquemada was made grand inquisitor.
Torquemada developed a network of spies. His courts of inquisition summoned thousands of individuals. Most of them were completely at a loss as to what they were supposed to have done. One third were tortured. The three most common tortures were to be hung by the arms until they were pulled from their sockets; to be forced to swallow gallons of water; and to be racked.
The inquisition kept records of interrogations, and these show people begging to be told what to admit so they could escape their agony. “I have said that I did all that the witnesses say. Señores, release me, for I do not remember it. . . . for God’s sake have mercy on me,” pleaded one woman. A man undergoing the torture insisted he was a good Catholic. If they wanted him to say he was a heretic, he would because of the torture. “Señor Inquisidor, what does your lordship want me to say?” Another: “I don’t know what to say. . . . Oh God, Oh God there’s no mercy, Oh God help me, help me!”
Worse than the tortures was the fear of immolation [killed as a sacrifice]. Torquemada burned over 2,000 “guilty” victims. Naturally, with such a record he was loathed. He found it necessary to go about with bodyguards. Even the Pope could not stop his cruel work. When Sixtus IV in a bull absolved all the Conversos of any wrong they might have done, Ferdinand refused to be bound by the bull. Torquemada continued the persecution and Sixtus backed down. Torquemada extended his reach. He had all unconverted Jews expelled from Spain.
Ironically and tragically, this brutal dealing was done in the name of Christ, who never raised a finger to hurt anybody but willingly gave his own life for others. On September 16, 1498, at the age of 78, Torquemada died. His apparatus lived on after him, crushing new victims long after he was gone. Bibliography: 1. Ott, Michael. “Tomas de Torquemada.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914. 2. Kamen, Henry. The Spanish Inquisition. London: White Lion Publishers, 1976. 3. Sabatini, Rafael. Torquemada. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1924. 4. Various encyclopedia articles. The Catholic Church Today: Charity Hospital run by the Sisters of Charity in New Orleans, along with the Upjohn company developed the plasma system in the 1930’s that saved tens of thousands of lives in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and in the middle east today.
During the American Civil War most of the nurses were nuns.
When the Catholic Church was founded, there were no hospitals. Today, one out of five people in this country receive their medical care at a Catholic hospital.
When the Catholic Church was founded, there were no schools. Today, the Catholic Church teaches 3 million students a day, in its more than 250 Catholic Colleges and Universities, in its more than 1200 Catholic High Schools and its more than 5000 Catholic grade schools.
Every day, the Catholic Church feeds, clothes, shelters and educates more people than any other organization in the world. In one year alone the Catholic Church spent over one billion dollars on charity.
So yes, Christ’s prophecy was true: “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” But in the midst of these facts there is a sect of priests ruling over the church that Christ also addressed whose spirit is far from charitable: “that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.” And the prophecies are clear concerning these priests’ influence over the Earth: the sins of Rome are bringing the world to its knees. And men are called to steer clear of these sins as Jesus warned Catholics and Protestants alike:
“For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Rev.18:3-5.
This warning of the great threat of sin in the soul goes back many centuries before: “And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him [Moses] there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” Ex.34:5-7. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” Acts 3:19.