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Chapter 2
The Implecations of Sunday Legislation

Thee Pope in his Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini, dated May 31, 1998 but released on July 7, 1998, introduced a matter whichwas both disturbing and of the utmost importance. Ponder John Paul’s words:

Therefore, also in the particular circumstances of our own time, Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy.

Civil legislation? Civil legislation has only one place, and one place alone, in matters of religion and personal conviction. That prerogative is to guarantee full religious liberty and free practice of faith to all citizens of the nation. Of course, vile crimes such as human sacrifice must not be encompassed by such liberty. But care must be taken not to extend such exceptions beyond the realm of criminal acts abhorrent to mankind.

If the Pope in this matter is making a plea for civil legislation to guarantee full religious liberty for all citizens to practice their faith, we applaud it. If he is asserting the right of man to refrain from taking part in all aspects of religion, we could not rightly take issue with this plea. But this does not appear to be the intent of John Paul’s words.

Three paragraphs prior to the statement quoted above, the Pope, of course in a manner designed to limit the serious implications of that which he has suggested, speaks of his church having enacted Sunday laws in times past. The historical record of such church laws is far from exemplary, for coercion rather than liberty was the hallmark of such legislation. The Pope speaks of the church laws being enacted, having "in mind above all the work of servants and workers." He further reminded his readers that

Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical Rerum Novarum spoke of Sunday rest as a worker’s right which the State must guarantee.

There is no provision in Leo XIII’s Encyclical for workers’ rights in the matter of seventh-day Sabbath observance, should that be their convictions.

Our concerns are increased when we take regard of a previous Apostolic Letter issued by the Pope on May 28, 1998. In this Apostolic Letter, Ad Tuendam Fidem (To Protect the Faith), which was designed to insert new codes into Canon Law, the new Canon 1436 is a cause for grave concern. It states:

Canon 1436 – § 1. Whoever denies a truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or who calls into doubt, or who totally repudiates the Christian faith, and does not retract after having been legitimately warned, is to be punished as a heretic or an apostate with a major excommunication; a cleric moreover can be punished with other penalties, not excluding deposition.

§ 2. In addition to these cases, whoever obstinately rejects a teaching that the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops, exercising the authentic Magisterium, have set forth to be held definitively, or who affirms what they have condemned as erroneous, and does not retract after having been legitimately warned, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty.

Here "punishment as a heretic" is invoked, together with a mystifying "punishment with an appropriate penalty." With such ill-defined punishment we could be forgiven if we reflected upon the history of the Inquisition. Peter de Rosa, a former professor of theology at Corpus Christi College and Professor of Ethics at Westminster Seminary, both Roman Catholic institutions, in his book, Vicars of Christ, (Corgi Books, 1989, London, p. 244) stated that 80 successive popes implemented the Inquisition.

In his Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini, John Paul II appealed to Pope Leo XIII, who reigned from 1878–1903. John Paul wrote,

My predecessor, Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical Rerum Novarum spoke of Sunday rest as a worker’s right which the State must guarantee.

The appeal to Leo XIII is of concern. It will be noted that he, too, called upon the State, the civil authorities, to support Sunday sacredness. Further, Leo XIII was no friend of religious liberty. He officially declared in his Papal Encyclical on Human Liberty,

Let us examine that liberty in individuals which is so opposed to the virtue of religion, namely the liberty of worship, as it is called. This is based on the principle that every man is free to profess as he may choose any religion or none.…A liberty such as we have described…is no liberty, but is degradation (The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII, 3rd addition, Benzinger, 1903, pp. 149, 150).

Leo XIII’s predecessor, Pope Pius IX, who held the papal seat longer than any pope in history (1846–1878), held identical views of religious liberty. In his Syllabus of Errors, issued December 8, 1864, Pope Pius IX condemned 80 matters which he listed as "errors". Two are worthy of record in respect of the matter of religious liberty.

No. 15 Every man is free to embrace or profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.

No. 24 The church has not the power of force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect.

Again we emphasize that Pius IX declared these matters, upholding religious liberty and precluding the church from the use of temporal force, to be errors.

Such a philosophy of freedom leaves wide open the door of punishment for simply holding convictions contrary to those of the Roman Catholic Church, even when the individual leads an exemplary life as a citizen in all respects. It is surely the thinking of the Dark Ages, not the nineteenth century.

The Roman Catholic Church has a long track record of what it considers as appropriate and just punishment for heretics. Estimates of the number who died at the hand of the Church range from 50 million to 120 million.

The revered Roman Catholic saint and theologian, Thomas Aquinas, wrote,

With regard to heretics…on their own side there is sin, by which they deserve not only to be separated from the church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. (SUMMA THEOLOGICA Part II of second part, question 11, article 3, Vol. 2 page 440).

The cruelties of the Inquisition are too horrible to recount, yet modern scholars have for several decades been reappraising the Inquisition.

Some now maintain the justice meted out, although brutal, was neither capricious nor unusual for the times. (Courier Mail, Brisbane, Australia, Nov. 2, 1998).

This is a most disconcerting assessment since it was largely the papacy which fashioned those times.

The Libro Nero (Black Book), a guide to Inquisitors, which was still on display in the Vatican last century, typifies papal justice, especially as many confessions were not made because of guilt but in order to spare the accused further cruel torture. The Inquisitors were admonished,

Either the person confesses and he is proved guilty from his own confession, or he does not confess and is equally guilty on the evidence of witnesses (many of whom were unreliable). If a person confesses the whole of what he is accused of, he is unquestionably guilty of the whole; but if he confesses only a part, he ought still be regarded as guilty of the whole, since what he has confessed proves him to be capable of guilt as to the other points of accusation (Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ, p. 228, Corgi Books, London, 1989).

That death of heretics was still regarded as appropriate in the early part of the twentieth century is evidenced in a book written by Dr. Mariano de Luca in 1901. This book was based upon a series of lectures which Dr. de Luca had presented. The book contains a letter from Pope Leo XIII highly commending Dr. de Luca’s presentations. Dr. de Luca quoted,

The civil magistrate, by the command and commission of the church, ought to punish the heretic with the penalty of death. (Institutions of Ecclesiastical Public Law, p. 261). NOTE: The statement is a quote from Dr. Tanner positively presented by Dr. de Luca.

In 1910, Alexis Lépicier, professor of Sacred Theology in the Pontifical Urban College of Propaganda in Rome, reiterated the claim that the state should inflict death on heretics (On the Stability and Progress of Dogma, 2nd edition, pp. 194–210).

Thus, Pope John Paul II’s enactment of new punitive laws for heretics is no trivial threat to the welfare and liberties of mankind. Since his apostolic letter Ad Tuendum Fidem includes all Christians, it is a great challenge as Protestantism moves rapidly towards Rome. The introduction states:

To protect the faith of the Catholic Church against errors arising from certain members of the Christian faithful. (Emphasis added)

The significance should not be lost upon the reader, if a non-Catholic, that the new canon law 1436 was addressed to "Whoever" and the new canon law 1371 was directed to "a person who…." Thus they are not confined to Roman Catholic adherents.

While the Pope may not be considering such extreme penalties, nevertheless the vague nature of the penalties provides an open-ended decision-making process. Thus Canon 1436 speaks of "an appropriate penalty" while the other new Canon, 1371, refers to punishment for lack of doctrinal orthodoxy to be meted out with a "just penalty." Such lack of specificity was that which opened the way to imprisonment and death in ages past.

Of course many would claim that times have so changed since the period of the Inquisition that such would never be tolerated. But the Bible plainly declares that just prior to Christ’s coming both economic boycotts and death will be imposed upon faithful followers of Christ, simply because their convictions are at odds with the majority faith. Christ, Himself, warned,

They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service (John 16:2).

In the book of the end-time Jesus plainly stated the final events of earth’s history. Remember that this book is the revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1).

And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast, saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Revelation 13: 14-17).

To many, the language of this passage may seem initially incomprehensible. But the 13th chapter of Revelation provides ample evidence to make this passage all too plain. This we shall see. But firstly let us extract the plain matters in the quoted passage:

1. This is an issue of worship (verse 15).

2. Massive deception will be perpetrated upon the entire world (verse 16).

3. The central focus is a "beast which had a wound by a sword and did live" (verse 14).

4. A mark will be received by those who accept the worship of this coercive power (verses 16, 17).

5. There will be an economic boycott of dissenters (verse 17).

6. There will be a death sentence for dissenters (verse 15).

7. There is a "he" who will empower "the beast" and assist the "beast" in the prosecution of dissenters (verse 15).

We need to identify several matters from the above facts. Having done so, this issue will be perfectly clear. These matters are:

1. The identity of "the beast which had the wound."

2. The mysterious "mark" which will save people from both the economic boycott and the universal death decree.

3. The "he" who has so much worldwide influence that "he" can enforce economic boycotts and death decrees worldwide in support of the "beast’s" form of worship.

Let us first identify the "mark." The Bible identifies this "mark" in other passages of Scripture. Whatever it is, it is a most telling and important matter. As we have seen in the above passage, it is of such value that the possessors of it, whether in the forehead or in the right hand, will be spared both severe economic sanctions and execution.

But further investigation of the mark of this "beast" power reveals that it is a double-sided coin. On the other side it provides the most dire penalties from God for those who possess this mark. Let us look at those Scriptural passages which plainly declare this fact.

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name (Revelation 14:9-11).

This passage of Scripture reveals:

1. That this is an issue of worship (verse 9,11).

2. That the bearers of "the mark" will reap the awesome wrath of God (verse 10,11).

And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image (Revelation 16:1,2).

These verses reveal that those who receive "the mark of the beast" will be the recipients of the seven last plagues — plagues of a magnitude never previously known upon earth. (For details of each of the seven plagues read the entire chapter of Revelation 16.)

And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone (Revelation 19:20).

The third of this trilogy of passages instructs us as follows:

1. The "beast" and the "he" ("the false prophet that wrought miracles — compare with Revelation 13:14 — those who accepted the mark) will be destroyed in the final conflagration.

2. Again the issue of worship is emphasized — "worshipped his image." Thus worship is a key issue in this matter of "the mark."

3. Those who receive "the mark" will also be destroyed in the final destruction of the wicked.

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power (2 Thessalonians 1: 7-9).

Clearly then, at the end of earth’s history mankind will be required to make a choice. This is no easy choice. Those who accept the mark of the beast will be spared the economic boycotts and execution to be meted out to the small group which refrains from enforced worship. On the other hand, they will incur the wrath of God and will suffer the seven last plagues and eternal destruction in the final conflagration.

This coerced worship will be almost universal.

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8).

This fact should provide every Christian pause to consider the final goals of the ecumenical movement. While it is true that Christ prayed for unity amongst Christians (John 17:21), it was not unity based upon compromise and/or error. Christ never taught unity at any price. Notice that the prayer for unity recorded in John 17:21 is based upon Christ’s platform of truth.

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.... And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth (John 17:17, 19).

The ecumenical movement de-emphasizes truth and doctrinal convictions in order to obtain uniformity amongst the members of churches which holds doctrines which are diametrically opposed. Let us illustrate. Presbyterians believe in predestination. On the other hand, Methodists believe in free choice. Episcopalians believe in infant baptism. Baptists practice adult believer baptism. The Salvation Army has no form of baptism, nor do they engage in the communion service, unlike most other faiths. Some segments of the Church of England practice confession to priests, while the Lutherans confess directly to Christ. The Eastern Orthodox churches utilize icons and images in their worship, while the Church of the Nazarenes does not. The Church of Christ eschews the use of musical instruments in its services, while most other faiths utilize such instruments. Some faiths assert the doctrine of once saved, always saved; others believe that salvation is conditioned upon continual obedience. Doctrinal positions, such as the immortality of the soul and its opposite, the belief in death as a "sleep," have to be submerged in the ecumenical movement. So too do the doctrinal views of the earthly millennium and its converse, the millennium in heaven. The difference between Sunday, as opposed to Saturday sanctity has to be submerged if the ecumenical movement is to succeed in its aims.

That it will all but succeed is made evident in the prophecy of Revelation 13:8 quoted above. However, the context of this Scripture informs us that this move for a single world religion is far from God’s choosing and is inimical to salvation, for the minority clearly are the ones whose names are written in the Book of Life and thus receive salvation. The great majority will forfeit salvation. This confirms Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 10: 22, 23) which Paul applied to the Christian Church.

Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved" (Romans 9:27).

Every devout Christian should reevaluate the aims of the ecumenical movement. Manifestly it is not designed of God.

It will be this remnant featured in the prophecies of Isaiah and Romans who will be saved. Those are the very same people who refuse to accept the mark of the beast. Speaking of such people, when redeemed in heaven, we are informed,

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints (Revelation 15:2, 3).

 

 


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