Bible Ignorance, Clergy Corruption and the Inquisition in England before the Reformation
Bible Illiteracy as the Cause of Widespread Corruption and Deadly Censorship
By Julio Severo
In plain 21th century and specially in the pro-life and conservative movement, it makes no sense to defend the Inquisition, a highly divisive subject contributing nothing to the pro-family cause. But since 2013 I have seen the Inquisition, which tortured and murdered Jews and Protestants, being passionately excused and even defended by some Catholics. See “Can a Pro-Life Activist Defend The Inquisition?” in 2013 and “Neocons, the Inquisition, Russophobia and Lies” in 2015. See also my exchange with the American Catholic writer Theodore Shoebat, who said, “The Inquisition was necessary to protect the people of Spain and Portugal, and Latin America, from pagan tyranny.” (To understand more about the Shoebat case, see his declarations here and my article “A Global Inquisition to Put Homosexuals to Death?”)
After this Inquisition advocacy, I feel a Christian obligation to expose the truth, because only the truth makes people free.
I am reading the book “The History of Religious Liberty,” written by Dr. Michael Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association the world’s biggest homeschool association. This excellent book, which addresses also the Inquisition and torture and death of Christians at the stake, can be purchased, in its print version, from WND (WorldNetDaily), at this link. To purchase the Kindle version, click here.
“The History of Religious Liberty,” recommended by WND, one of the world’s biggest conservative news sites, should be read by everyone who wants to understand the bloody cost of religious freedom in England, which greatly benefitted the U.S.
In one part of this book, I remembered Brazil, which has, on a large scale, the same problem described by Dr. Farris and which happened abundantly in England before the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago. He tells about a powerful cardinal who had almost as much power in England as the king himself.
Dr. Farris says:
“[The ultra-powerful Cardinal Thomas] Wolsey held incredible power and wealth… He was ordained a priest and became a chaplain at the royal court sometime around 1507. Along the way, Wolsey amassed an amazing fortune that rivaled that of the king. Part of this fortune came from the practice of awarding leading clerics multiple offices from which were obtained multiple salaries. While holding royal office, Wolsley simultaneously held church positions at Hereford Cathedral, Limington in Somerset, Redgrave in Suffolk, Lydd in Kent, and Torrington in Devonshire, among others. This does not mean that Wolsley actively preached or shepherded these congregations or dioceses; the typical practice was similar to that of an absentee landlord: collecting lucrative salaries while providing little, if any, direct service. Wolsey was not alone in this practice. For example, Tyndale’s home of Gloucester County contained the diocese of Worcester, which was among the most abused bishoprics in England. Few of its principal pastors had lived there since 1476, and after 1512 ‘the diocese had enjoyed three Italian bishops, who lived at ease in Rome, and never set foot in England at all, yet drawing meanwhile, ample stipends.’”
“On November 18, 1515, Wolsey was consecrated a cardinal at a ceremony in Westminster Abbey and just over a month later, on December 24, was made the lord chancellor of England — the highest rank in the land other than king. It is said that ‘his power with the king was so great that the Venetian Ambassador said he now might be called ‘Ipse rex’ (the king himself).’”
Dr. Farris explains then the cause of this corruption:
“The Bible was essentially unknown in a nation where the Roman Church was so dominant that the pope’s annual revenue from England was comparable to that taken by the king. Even the clergy were largely scripturally illiterate.”
Elsewhere in his book, Farris shows that English Christians attempting to translate the Bible into English were tortured and burned at the stake. Christians trying to preach the Bible to the people also suffered the same fate. The Catholic Church held the people in ignorance by preaching the Bible only in Latin, a language the people did not understand. Farris explains how a Catholic priest was condemned to be burned for preaching the Bible to the people:
“Early in 1529, a priest named Thomas Hitton was arrested for heresy after preaching in Kent. He was interrogated — we can assume without mercy — and confessed to have smuggled an English New Testament into England from the continent. He was condemned by Archbishop Warnham and Bishop Fisher. By standard practice, the ecclesiastical condemnation was enforced by the secular authorities to maintain the pretense that the church itself did not shed blood. On February 23, 1529, Hitton was burned at the stake in Maidstone. Those professing to love and serve God ceremoniously executed another professing Christian in a slow, agonizing, and brutally painful death — all for the express purpose of sending this ‘heretic’ straight into the fires of hell.”
After Wolsey, Thomas More was appointed Lord Chancellor of England in 1529. According to Michael Farris, More rejoiced at seeing a man condemned to be burned for the only “crime” of owning a Tyndale New Testament. According to Farris, the bloodthirsty More said,
“And now the spirit of error and lying hath taken his wretched soul with him straight from the short fire to the fire everlasting.”
In his obsession to hinder the people from having access to the Bible, More persecuted especially those attempting to translate it into English. He was the great persecutor of William Tyndale, whose Bible translation was a foundation for the famous King James Version, used by the English-speaking people since the 1600s.
According to Farris, “More willed them to be ignorant of the written Word of God lest they ever doubt the Catholic Church on any point.”
For More, Tyndale was a “heretic” worthy of being burned, because by translating the New Testament he had “corrupted” some words of the Bible. Among the words, Michael Farris highlights “love.” Farris notes,
“The dispute over the Greek word agape had serious implications for Catholic practices. Translated ‘charity,’ as More desired, the word has clear financial implications. If Tyndale is correct, and the word is rendered ‘love,’ then 1 Corinthians 13 indicates that the highest duty of the Christian is to love others rather than to give gifts of charity to the church.”
Then Farris shows how Tyndale defended himself for not using the word “charity” in the place of love:
“Throughout his writings, he demonstrates how the ceremonies that the Roman Church contends were revealed by God to the church authorities are better understood as money-making opportunities for the clergy. The sale of indulgences is the best known of these practices. People are denied the freedom to know God's Word, Tyndale suggests, because if they could read it for themselves they would stop paying for religious services that are contrary to the teaching of Scripture.”
Apparently, the Catholic clergy kept the people deliberately ignorant in order to exploit them financially. And the Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. No pope, cardinal or bishop is immune to this evil.
It reminds me that greed in the Catholic Church, as explained by Catholic neocon Cliff Kincaid, has been one of the major causes of Islamic immigration into the U.S. According to Kincaid, the Catholic Church gets a multi-million dollar profit with this invasion.
About ignorance and corruption, it is interesting to observe that most current politicians of the ruling Workers’ Party in Brazil had a past involvement with the Catholic Church, especially the base ecclesial communities with their Liberation Theology. In fact, the current opinion is that NCBB (National Conference of Bishops of Brazil) helped found the Workers’ Party (WP), the socialist party ruling today in Brazil.
The ignorance of Brazilian Catholics goes far beyond an exceptionally great adherence to Liberation Theology. It also includes an adherence to historic and religious falsifications. While Michael Farris says that the execution of “heretics” at the stake was a slow, agonizing, and brutally painful death, Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho denies all of this by saying:
“Even in the popular image of the Inquisition fires lies are predominant. Everybody believes that condemned individuals ‘died burned,’ amid horrible suffering. The flames were high, more than 16 feet high, to hinder suffering. The condemned individuals (less than ten a year in two dozen nations) died suffocated in a few minutes, before the flames could touch them.”
In contrast with Carvalho’s romantic version, Farris wrote that on February 9, 1555, Protestant Bishop John Hooper was executed for “heresy.” Farris says,
“The fire had burned his legs and he stood on the remaining stumps praying in anguish. Eventually one of his arms was burned off as well. The hellish torture lasted 45 minutes before Hooper, retaining consciousness the entire time, finally succumbed to the brutally slow flames.”
Farris also says,
“Perotine Gosset, together with her mother and sister, was convicted of heresy in the summer of 1556 in Guernsey, in the Channel Isles. Perotine did not reveal to the authorities that she was pregnant. The heat of the flames caused her to give birth to a living son, who was snatched from the flames by bystanders. The sheriff grabbed the baby and threw him back into the burning mass of wood and human flesh. His apparent reason was that the baby had been in the mother when she was convicted to die, and so the death sentence applied to him as well.”
The execution of “heretics,” through death in the flames, was done at the stake. Farris records in his book many of such executions at the stake. The word “execution” appears about 100 times in Farris’ book.
He says that between 1506 and 1519, the Catholic Church in England burned at the stake 22 followers of John Wycliffe (1328-1384), who made the first Bible translation into English.
Farris tells that in 1529, Thomas More tortured and executed John Tewkesbury at the stake, because he followed the Bible.
According to Farris, More carried out many similar executions. Farris said, “More defended his many executions by describing ‘heretics’ that were ‘justly’ burned at the stake.”
In Carvalho’s view, the liar regarding the horrific executions by the Catholic Church over 500 years is not Carvalho, but rather Americans. Ironically, he no longer lives in the biggest Catholic nation in the world (Brazil). He lives in the biggest Protestant nation in the world, right in the Bible Belt. Even so, he says:
“The myth of the Inquisition has been the most extensive and lasting campaign of slander and defamation in history until today, with multi-million dollar funding, and it seems this campaign will have no end. Those who created it were not Illuminati or communists. It was created by Protestants, who keep promoting it even today, and the irradiant center is U.S. churches. This is a historical fact that all professional historians today know, and it has nothing to do with ‘theological debates.’”
In an October 2015 remark, Mr. Carvalho said that anti-Inquisition Protestants are worse than KGB. With his usual language of affirming that he is supported by “historical facts, abundantly known…” (when in reality he presents no reliable sources and cloaks his weak arguments with a pseudo-intellectualism), he said:
“It is a historical fact, abundantly known today, that the ‘black legend’ of the Inquisition was from the beginning to the end an invention of Protestants, not of Illuminati or communists. And it is a fact that this legend was and is still the vastest, the most malicious, deceptive and persistent campaign of slander and defamation ever recorded in History. It has lasted 500 years, stretching out throughout the Western world and it shows no indication that it is going to stop. Even the KGB never achieved anything of this magnitude. Like it or not, this is the reality.”
Apparently, just by virtue of being an American Protestant Michael Farris would be involved in an alleged “myth” and “campaign of slander” against the Inquisition and its executions. I wonder if Carvalho would also include Rev. Franklin Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who said about the Inquisition: “Many people in history have used the name of Jesus Christ to accomplish evil things for their own desires. But Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness. He came to give His life for the sins of mankind, not to take life.”
Ignorance of the Bible and the Gospel is the biggest cause of those confusions, including about the indisputable role of the Brazilian Catholic Church promoting a theological Marxism that has been highly successful in Brazil over the last 50 years.
Less Bible means more ideology, more greed and more corruption. If the Catholic Church in Brazil taught its people to devote themselves to God’s Word, there would be little or no space for the Marxist ideology, and the socialist Workers’ Party would never have been founded. Further, the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil would be preaching the Gospel, not socialist ideas.
Therefore, one cannot ascribe all the endemic corruption in Brazil exclusively to adherents of Marxism and the Workers’ Party (WP). As shown by Michael Farris, centuries before Marxism, corruption and greed in the Catholic clergy in England were something any WP adherent would envy. Even WP adherents, however, did not go so far as to burn at the stake the true followers of Jesus.
Nor is it a coincidence that all current scandals of WP corruption are happening in the biggest Catholic nation in the world. In many aspects, these are reminiscent of scandals exposed by Farris. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3,000 years ago, there is nothing new under the sun.
As soon as England abolished the domination of a Catholic clergy that greedily controlled it and embraced the Protestant Reformation with its practice of Bible reading, the nation prospered intensely, becoming the British Empire. But the English openness to the Bible was not total. Where it was total, there was greater prosperity, and the United States, where the Bible was the main national book, became a much more important and powerful empire than the British Empire.
Thomas More, the killer who had a torture chamber in the basement of his house to extract confessions from his “heretical” victims, was eventually condemned and executed for political intrigues. The Catholic Church transformed him into a “saint” and “martyr.” He left this world with a trail of tortured and killed Protestants. The focus of his life was the Catholic Church, not obedience to God through the Bible.
William Tyndale, considered by Michael Farris as one of the forerunners of the U.S. religious freedom, was fiercely opposed by More and was condemned to die at the stake as a “heretic.” Tyndale left this world having never tortured and killed one single Catholic or religious dissenter. The focus of his life was Jesus and His Gospel.
This is the very example of Jesus’ apostles, who were known for preaching the Gospel with such great devotion that they were willing to die for it, not to murder in its name.
Ignorance of the Bible inevitably leads to widespread corruption and led to the Inquisition — a total and murderous censorship of the true followers of Jesus Christ.
An access to Bible reading is essential for the liberty of a people from the darkness of atheism and false religion. All of the early U.S. presidents were diligent Bible readers. Some read it in the original Greek and Hebrew. Others were also chairmen of Bible societies, whose mission was to facilitate access to and reading of the Bible and the evangelization of peoples.
The moral and spiritual decadence of England and the U.S. today is because, coincidently, those two nations abandoned, among their political leaderships and populations, the practice of Bible reading and obedience, whose access was afforded to the English and Americans by Tyndale and others at a bloody price and by martyrdom.
Portuguese version of this article: Ignorância da Bíblia, corrupção do clero católico e Inquisição na Inglaterra antes da Reforma
Source: Last Days Watchman