Despite the terrible way in which the young Christian Church was treated in her early years she grew spectacularly in both numbers and the character of her members. The selfless nobility she exhibited in the face of danger, suffering and death fully reflected Gospel values and set her aside as unique.

 

The end of those glorious years came slowly but inexorably, its cause the favor that Roman Emperor Constantine bestowed upon her in 325 A.D., legitimizing her and making her a state religion.

 

As the Roman church continued to grow in size and power, her nobility withered under the oppressive foot of comfort and acceptance. She eventually betrayed her own purpose, effectively divorcing herself from the God she professed to serve. Abandoning the banner of love that stood above all else, she settled for purity. Perceiving the lewdness of the surrounding pagan religions, she chose to march forward under that banner instead, and to that end she removed all hints of gender from God, even to the point of tampering with Scripture itself. At that point she became an institution of man rather than God, whose true Church resided in isolated enclaves known only to God Himself. Some of these enclaves remained within the Roman church, but they were not of the church elite.

 

This pseudo-church clothed herself in pomp and splendor, elevating the elite within her to positions of grandiosity, involving herself in economic and political affairs, worshiping the products of man’s own hands as idols, devising self-serving rules and traditions that violated Jesus’ teachings, and, most terrible of all, denying the common man the Word of God in Scripture, even the Scripture that they had the audacity to change.

 

The medieval church wielded virtually absolute power over both kings and commoners. This power had nothing to do with God and everything to do with the exercise of governance, making even those of mediocre position impossibly arrogant.

 

The conflict between arrogant and powerful men of the cloth and common Christians is exemplified by an exchange between two men on the water in 1517, as recounted in Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World:

 

“John Browne ran into trouble with the Church by sitting too close to a priest on a public barge in 1517.

 

“’Do you know who I am?’ the priest demanded. ‘You’re sitting on my clothing!’

 

“’No sir,’ replied Browne, ‘I don’t know who you are.’

 

“’I’m a priest.’

 

“’Oh. Are you a parson? A vicar? Or a lady’s chaplain?’

 

“’No. I’m a soul priest,’ the man replied. ‘I sing for a soul.’

 

“’Do you? That’s wonderful!’ Browne exclaimed. ‘But where do you find this soul when you go to mass?’

 

“’I don’t know.’

 

“’Ah. And when the mass is done, where do you leave this soul?’ continued Browne.

 

“’I don’t know.’

 

“’But if you don’t know where to find or leave this soul, how can you save it?’

 

“’Get out of here!’ the priest yelled. ‘You are a heretic, and I’ll get even with you!’

 

“As soon as he left the barge, this priest went directly to Archbishop Warham. Three days later John Browne was taken from his home and imprisoned in Canterbury, where he remained from Low Sunday until the Friday before Whit-Sunday, without his family knowing where he was.

 

“The night before he was to be burned as a heretic, Browne was locked in the stocks at Ashford, Kent, where he lived, and found by his wife, who stayed by his side all night listening to his story. Browne showed her his feet, which had been burned to the bones with hot coals by bishops Warham and Fisher, ‘to make me deny my Lord, which I will never do. Please, Elizabeth,’ Browne continued, ‘do as you have done in the past and bring the children up virtuously in the fear of God.’

 

“The next day Browne was burned at the stake, saying, ‘Into thy hands I commend my spirit. You have redeemed me, O Lord of Truth.’”

 

I don’t know about you, but the arrogant attitudes of the priest and his superiors in this sad but true tale remind me of something. As a matter of fact, examples abound in today’s governmental culture, from the president of the United States on down. I don’t even have to list them. If you’ve watched any news on TV this past year, you’ve seen them for yourselves.

 

It doesn’t matter at all whether the overt venue of power is economic, political, or religious. Regardless of what it is supposed to be, it is a system of man that has ascended to the top of the heap, dominating everything beneath it.

 

Once it has acquired that status, its corruption is inevitable. That’s just the way things work out with man at the helm. It’s as predictable as a natural law.

 

Some eminent politicians and thinkers, worried about man’s own capability of damaging the world with global warming, nuclear winter, or some other great evil, are calling for a global government that supposedly will end all strife.

 

We will have that global government. All we can hope for is that it won’t happen in our lifetimes or those of our children and grandchildren, because when that happens, those who are alive at that time will witness the most terrifyingly corrupt government of all time.

 

This government, wielding absolute power over every human being on earth, is inevitable for one reason because given our dark, world-endangering abilities, we all shall perceive that we need one merely to survive. We shall clamor for it.

 

There is a bigger reason for its inevitability. The Bible, with its record of hundred-percent accuracy, says that it will happen. Its existence was foretold half a millennium before Christ by Daniel, and by Jesus Himself to John in the Book of Revelation. The details of this government are so graphically unique to our own age that the Book of Revelation is now open to us only by reason of the technology that we have acquired over the past fifty years.

 

The good news is that this time of chaos will end with the government of God Himself, where He will bring with Him the immensity of His love.

Published by Art Perkins