BEAST OF THE EARTH, PART 2
was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of
the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of
the beast to be killed. Revelation 13:15
beast of the earth made an image to the beast of the sea; in other words, the
beast of the earth wanted to look like the beast of the sea. The major churches
that came into being during the Protestant Reformation made an image to the
beast of the sea, the Catholic Church, through their church structures and
rituals. The denominational structures and names were like breath to this image
created by the beast of the earth. Those structures gave identity and life to
the individual groups that broke away from the Catholic Church. The word breath
in the New King James Version is translated life
in the King James Version. The Greek word is breath
and in this context implies a spirit that gives life.
spirit that was imbibed during the Reformation was a spirit of division. In
time, division became the lifestyle for churches that were born during the
Reformation and for the churches that broke away from those churches during the
following centuries—including the present time. Jesus prayed for His disciples
and the church that was to be born on the Day of Pentecost in John 17:11 &
I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy
Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be
one as We are. . . . I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will
believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are
in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe
that You sent Me.
is a divine characteristic of the church Jesus built; the church is to be
“one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You.” Unity requires people to
have a personal relationship with Christ that makes them one with one another.
This can only happen through the grace of God and the indwelling presence of the
Holy Spirit. No church, denomination or association can make this happen.
spirit of division separates Christians and appears to divide Jesus. Can Jesus
be the one head over opposing churches? How many bodies can Jesus have? The
desire for unity is blocked by the walls of division and different memberships.
It is sad to say that in spite of the love for truth, the Reformers and their
followers built organizational images to the very Church of Rome they left.
Change in the Spirit of the Reformation
the Reformation progressed, an uncooperative, war-like nature developed among
the national churches. In addition to this there were movements that responded
to the Reformation but refused to submit to the authority of their national
Protestant reformers demanded religious liberty from the Catholic Church but
when faced with Christians whose faith and understanding of God’s word went
beyond their creeds they did not give them the same liberty. It is tragic and
deplorable that the men God used to restore the essential teachings of gospel
salvation would in turn persecute and put to death others through whom God was
bringing more understanding. Also, there were some heresies that surfaced during
the 16th through the 18th centuries for which the teachers were persecuted and
put to death. It is a shame that the reformers advocated such cruelty when it is
strictly unscriptural—one would think they would have understood that. Let me
add, it was not every reformer or Protestant minister that persecuted these
people as there were godly ministers that refused to participate or condone this
was one particular group that was singled out for persecution during this time,
the Anabaptists, commonly called Baptists.
ministers of the Zwinglian church in Switzerland by the names Grebel, Manz, and
Cajacob gained significant light from the gospel that led them to move beyond
state churchism to a true New Testament faith and practice. By the end of 1524,
they took a position against infant baptism and advocated a true church composed
only of born again baptized members. Rather than imputing a means of grace to
the Lord’s Supper, they understood it to be a memorial observance. A dispute
arose between Zwingli and these men and was brought before the Zurich city
council. On January 18, 1525 the city council decreed that all infants must be
baptized within eight days of birth, and those who did not baptize their babies
would be banished from the city. Three days later the council forbade all
opponents of infant baptism to meet or speak in public.
the day the first decree was published the three men and some of their followers
met together in defiance of the decree but in obedience to the word of God and
determined to form a church based upon biblical principles. Cajacob was first
baptized by Grebel upon his confession of faith in Christ. Cajacob then baptized
others. These first baptisms were done by pouring water but later they adopted
immersion as the correct mode of baptism. Within the week 35 more believers were
baptized. These people had been baptized as infants, and realized that this was
no baptism at all. In being re-baptized as believers they were called
Anabaptists meaning to be baptized again.
Zurich city council issued a decree at the instigation of Zwingli that
stipulated: No Scriptural evidence for re-baptism was proved by the three men;
the three men preached without the permission and consent of the church; and
they taught that infant baptism did not come from God but from the devil. The
decree demanded that the people the people that followed their teaching forsake
re-baptism and that all infants are to be baptized. Finally, “If any be
disobedient and stubborn they shall be treated with severity.” The Anabaptists
and their leaders were thrown in jail.
December 1527 Felix Manz, Jacob Falk, and Henry Reiman were put to death by
drowning. The council had decreed “He who immerses shall be immersed.” Their
hands were tied, they were taken in a boat onto the lake and thrown into the
water. Some of the Protestants mocked the men as they died calling this their
Hubmaier was a close friend of Zwingli having fought together with him against
Roman Catholicism. In a book he wrote, Hubmaier stated the case against
persecution, that it was not the will of Christ to put men to death for their
beliefs and that churches are in the business of saving men, not burning them.
He also desired to follow the Bible and rejected infant baptism. He became a
Baptist. He was thrown in jail in January 1526 and was severely tortured on the
rack. In his weakened condition he agreed to recant but when he stood up to make
a public confession he shouted, “Infant baptism is not of God, and men must be
baptized by faith in Christ!” He was thrown back in jail. He was burned to
death in Vienna on March 10, 1528.
the Anabaptists increased in numbers over the years the persecution increased.
On March 26, 1530 a decree was put out stating: “Baptist leaders, their
followers, and protectors shall be drowned without mercy.” This Protestant
inquisition was very similar to the Roman Catholic one. The Protestants required
that every citizen submit to their doctrine and practice upon the pain of death.
They required that every citizen become a spy to report on the presence of
dissidents. Not only were dissidents persecuted, so were those who helped them
in any way, including those who failed to report them.
Luther actually taught that the proper mode of baptism is immersion but at the
same time he defended the practice of baptizing infants. In time he became an
enemy of the Anabaptists.
first Luther did not agree with persecution and bloodshed however he changed his
opinion during the Peasant War of 1524–1525 in which he encouraged the
nobility to swiftly and violently eliminate the rebelling peasants. Luther also
turned against the Anabaptists with whom he had once been in sympathy and
advocated their extermination.
Diet of Speirs in 1529 was a council consisting of Catholic and Protestant
princes and heads of state pronounced the death sentence on all Anabaptists. As
much as the Catholics and Protestants hated each other, they hated the
Lutheran lawyers of Wittenburg condemned one man for being a Zwinglian in
addition to condemning several Anabaptists.
1538 The city council of Protestant Augsburg, which had banned all Anabaptists
in 1534, proclaimed that anyone that returned to the city would have a finger
cut off, be branded on the check and if they returned again they would be
drowned. The proclamation stated: “We do this, not to make men believe as we
do. It is not a matter of faith, but to prevent division in the Church.” It
seems as if the division did have to do with matters of faith.
Calvin was also a persecutor
October 1563 Calvin supported the Geneva government in burning people to death
for heresy. Calvin was so supportive of putting heretics to death that he wrote
a treatise in favor of the practice. Calvin wrote a letter to the Lord Protector
of England urging him to put Anabaptists to death.
Arminius was a Dutch Reformed clergyman and professor at Leiden University.
Arminius disagreed with the Calvinistic view of predestination and saw that the
Bible taught that people are moral agents with will having the ability to either
respond to God’s offer of salvation or reject it. Pastors and theologians that
agreed with Arminius’ position were banished, imprisoned, or beheaded.
Arminius would have been executed but he died in 1606 of natural causes.
by the Church of England
Anglican Church was formed in 1534 when King Henry VIII broke away from the
Roman Catholic Church. Anabaptists and anyone who refused to submit to the
national church were persecuted from then until the end of the 17th century.
1535 28 Hollanders living in England were arrested and 14 including one woman
are burned to death for supposedly denying that Christ was both God and man.
October 1538 Thomas Cranmer prosecuted Anabaptists and confiscated and burned
their books. In 1539 two more Anabaptists were burned.
though England sided with the Reformation, there were constant struggles between
Catholics and Protestants for control of the country. Catholics persecuted
Protestants and Protestants persecuted Catholics. In 1547 Edward VI, son of
Henry VIII, stopped the persecution of Protestants but continued the persecution
of Baptists. Joan of Kent was burned to death on May 2, 1550. She was an
Anabaptist and loved the new Tyndale New Testament. She was falsely accused of
Elizabeth I gave freedom to Protestants and treated Catholics leniently but
treated Baptists severely. She issued a proclamation that Anabaptists should be
located and transported out of England. The Act for the Uniformity of Religion
was put into effect in 1559 that made the doctrine and practice of the Church of
England the law of the land.
continued well into the 17th century. Among many others, John Bunyan was kept in
prison for 12 years; many were tortured and died in prison.
1665 the Five Mile Act forbade non-conformist preachers to go within 5 miles of
any town or city that had a Church of England congregation.
the land of religious freedom, also has a record of religious persecution by
Puritans, who were themselves separatists, brought with them the false concept
of a state church and a persecuting spirit. They persecuted Baptists and Quakers
and others that differed from them.
first settlers in Virginia established the Anglican Church and passed laws that
required all its citizens to follow the doctrine and practice of the church.
Persecutions were common until after the Revolutionary War when Virginia became
part of the United States.
Have We Learned
we find that the beast of the earth giving life to the image of the beast—its
own replica of the beast of the sea.
Protestant Reformation was a powerful moving of God that restored much of the
teaching of gospel salvation. But the Reformers did not stop with the message of
salvation; they built an image of the beast by organizing themselves into
separate national churches. Even with much in the way of continuity of doctrine,
there was no unity of the spirit.
with their belief that Jesus is the head of the church, they did not permit
Jesus to be the head of the church. With their divisions they ended up with a
divided Jesus, which is no Jesus. They put together a Christ-less religion.
Without Christ as the head of the church, Protestantism fell into the familiar
habit of the beast of the sea—persecuting those that are different.
Unwittingly, the Protestant persecutions were levied at those to whom God gave
more understanding of the Word of God.
history of religious persecution is horrible and so opposite true Christianity
and the church built by Jesus. We covered only a brief outline of the
persecutions as we looked at the persecutions under Catholicism and
Protestantism. Those are times of which all of us must be ashamed. We must be
honest to admit they happened.
some of the people doing the persecuting were far from Christian it is not our
place to condemn everyone living in those times. It is best for us just to
acknowledge what happened, who did it and leave them all in the hands of our
under Protestantism for the most part has stopped, but it leaves a far worse
inheritance with an ongoing spiritual consequence: the mark of the beast.
David Cloud; Way of Life