In this paper, I view Christianity’s history through Biblical metaphors that depict the Body of Christ as a temple, a bride and a kingdom. I will initially rely mainly on the construction metaphor, God’s building of His corporate temple (Eph. 2:19-22)—reviewing what founded, strengthened, supported and upheld this “structure” in contrast to what undermined, eroded and dismantled it. Further, it seems relevant to contemplate, as many have, Christianity’s odyssey as often parallel and analogous to that of natural Israel, perceived through the lens of Biblical prophecy. My reference throughout to the “church” does not describe any specific denomination or group but simply Christians of sincere faith everywhere.
Truth increasingly falls prey to carnal rivalries and schisms between various sects and denominations in this age. Defensiveness is often a Christian’s first response when encountering new light of revelation from God’s enscriptured Word. Still, the book of Hebrews indicates that moving forward into greater light than our forebears had does not automatically dishonor or question the validity of their faith. Instead, by pressing into greater revelation, we affirm and validate the faithful steps of the past because we see all true Christians as pilgrims on the long road of restoration.
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised because God had provided something better for us so that apart from us, they would not be made perfect (Heb. 11:39-40).
The ancient men of faith spoken of in this passage gave their lives as pioneers on a frontier, pushing forward the boundaries of God’s kingdom. And they died in faith, having paved their miles of obedience through the wilderness of the world. But they never reached the culmination of their efforts nor saw the shores of the “new country” they sought. They were builders on Isaiah’s great “Highway of Holiness” leading back to Zion (Isa. 35:8). Only by following their footsteps down faith’s path can we bring their efforts to completion in our day, honoring the sacrifices of those who went before us. Thus, whatever was not brought to fruition by their actions is somehow to be completed, “made perfect,” with us.
This honor and perspective initially referred to the Old Testament believers before Christ. Still, the Biblical principle applies more broadly. I suggest that the same attitude and honor should guide our consideration of sincere Christians who died in faith before the great restoration of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the twentieth century or many other essential truths that God has restored to Christianity. We stand on their shoulders as we strain to touch promises formerly beyond reach.
Rebuilding the Spiritual Temple
It was God’s will to discipline corporate Israel for their treachery and idolatry by sending them into Babylonian captivity. But then His purpose required that a remnant, refined through this captivity, would no longer remain enmeshed in Babylonian society. God called them out through the prophetic voice of men like Ezra, Nehemiah and Zerubbabel. Similarly, over the course of centuries, God allowed vitiated, postapostolic Christianity to become entangled within civil governments across the globe. This “Babylonian exile” stood in stark contrast to the pure, voluntary societies of peace that had comprised the New Testament church.
God described Israel’s initial demand for a king—their desire to “be like all the other nations”—as rejecting Him and divine sovereignty (1 Sam. 8:7). Nonetheless, He bore patiently with backsliding Israel and even guided and used their political system until the coming of the Anointed One and the power of the Spirit. In the same way, the Constantinian synthesis between church and State represented a tragic repudiation of the Spirit’s lordship (2 Cor. 3:17; 6:14-17; John 18:36; Mark 12:17; Zech. 14:9). This synthesis proved a pivotal turning point in Christianity’s decline. Even still, God used a compromised Christianity, one married to the State instead of the Spirit, to advance His overall purpose globally. Politicized Christianity served as the “rod of iron” (Rev. 2:27), subjugating barbarian nations under the Mosaic Law—functioning again as a tutor leading multitudes toward a personal relationship with Christ (Gal. 3:24).
So, just as God sanctioned Israel’s Babylonian exile for a season, only to later demand they depart that same corrupt, chastening culture, Revelation portrays God calling His church to exodus in the last days. This final exodus from Babylon (confusion between sacred and profane) parallels Nehemiah and Ezra’s departure to restore and rebuild ransacked Jerusalem. This interpretation of Scripture similarly allows that God’s call to the church today is also the call of Nehemiah: “Go and rebuild spiritual Jerusalem. Her gates are burned with fire, and her walls are all torn down.” The spirit of restoration is moving through the church as God calls us to complete the work, to realize the fullness of what the Body of Christ was designed to be—a sacred kingdom where Jesus reigns across the earth over those who voluntarily submit themselves to His authority.
The prophet Ezekiel foretold the restoration of the final temple (Ezek. 40). It would seem that Ezekiel envisioned—not a stone edifice—but the spiritual temple Paul and others make clear is the Body of Christ (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:5; John 4:21-24).
In the second chapter of John, as Jesus was cleansing the physical temple in Jerusalem, He declared, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” But as this gospel goes on to state two verses later, the Jewish people to whom He addressed these words did not understand that “He was speaking of the temple of His body” (John 2:19-21).
The Body of Christ: A Temple Made without Human Hands
. . . the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).
You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:5; see also Gal. 6:10).
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17, NIV).
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22, NKJV).
The Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts. 7:48, NKJV).
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God (2 These. 2:4, NIV).
Dissatisfaction Is a Prerequisite to Revelation and Restoration
As for you, Son of Man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities, and let them measure the plan. If they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the house, its structures, its exits, its entrances, all its designs, all its statutes and all its laws. And write it in their sight so that they may observe its whole design and all its statutes to do them (Eek. 43:10-11).
God tells Ezekiel that He will reveal His plan to the house of Israel, which typifies the church (Gal. 6:16). But first, He will give them only a fleeting glimpse of the coming temple. If that brief picture embarrasses and shames the people because of their reproachful condition, then and only then will God reveal to them the complete plan for constructing His spiritual sanctuary on earth.
Ezekiel’s words should warn all believers to assess the actual condition of the church carefully. If we glibly pass over the church’s shameful breakdowns, we will evade the convicting urgency that God would use to prompt action and restoration. And, in doing so, the final vision for the most splendid temple of all time—the glory of which will be greater than that of the former house (Hag. 2:9)—will remain hidden from our eyes. We must prayerfully survey the church of our day. We must consider its “unity,” separation from the world and holiness as the pure Bride of Christ. We must ponder the modern church’s spiritual power. We must look at the young people in the Evangelical, Pentecostal and Anabaptist churches. We must honestly compare the twenty-first-century church of today to the first-century church of the book of Acts. The spirit and burden of Nehemiah must come upon us as we look around and see—not a “city compacted,” not “Jerusalem descending” from above—but a multitude in confusion, a city whose walls are torn down, whose gates are burned with fire.
In the book of Revelation, the church of the last days is described as a harlot, drunk on the wine of the world’s luxuries (Rev. 18:3). The Bride of Christ is shown to be committing spiritual adultery in her fornication with the world. Is this not what we see in our day? With every moral restraint that the world throws off, with every boundary removed, do we not also see the world’s lover, the church, following close behind? If the world begins to promote homosexuality, soon the church will also. If the world accepts cohabitation, then the church will soon follow suit. If the world embraces evolution and man’s priesthood through science, the church will also. If the world inverts the God-given order between men and women in marriages, you can rest assured the church will also. If the world embraces radical feminism and the demonizing of fatherhood, the church will inevitably grab hold of the same. If the world throws out the centuries-old customs of modesty and gender-specific dress, the church will also. If the world gives us its political system of organized government, such as through the Roman State, the church will mirror this in her own methods of government.
The Decline in Mainline Denominational Membership
From 1965 to 2010, mainline denominations reported the following declines in membership:
- Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) -63.5%
- Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) -51%
- United Church of Christ -46.3%
- Episcopal Church -43.1%
- United Methodist Church -29%
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -20.8%
- American Baptist Churches (U.S.A.) -15.5%1
These downward trends are not confined to mainline denominations. Conservative holiness groups have also felt the scythe of modernity, especially among their young. Some of history’s most devout churches—holiness Methodist, Anabaptist and Pentecostal groups—thought they would resist modernity’s inexorable pull merely by clinging tenaciously to sound doctrine, failing to see that the church was called to be an alternative culture, not merely the “religious” aspect of a believer’s otherwise secular existence.
The Barna Group reported in 2019 that Evangelicals had seen a stunning defection rate of 64% in just eight years! In an earlier study among mainline Protestants who still attend church, only 34% attended religious services at least once a week (and this was before COVID-19).2 This population also has the oldest average age of any religious group in America, at almost 52 years.3 Just half of church attendees report having a consistent prayer life, while a mere 16% claim to read their Bibles regularly.4 Newsweek’s Kenneth Woodward may have summed it up best when he said that mainline denominations have been “running out of money, members and meaning.”5
The outlook from Christianity Today is just as bleak. They report that in 2001, only 24% of Americans felt that “religion is losing its influence on American life.” Just four years later, that number doubled. By 2009, this sentiment was held by a full two-thirds of Americans—67%.6
LifeWay, the official publication of the Southern Baptist Convention, reports that two out of three teens leave the church as young adults. Only 10% of those leave because of disbelief in God. The vast majority simply pointed to what they called “life changes.” These “life changes” ranged from going away to college to increased work responsibilities. Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry at LifeWay, says, “What [our] research tells us [is that] there was nothing about the church experience or faith foundation of those teenagers that caused them to seek out a connection to a local church once they entered a new phase of life.”7
Chris Brooks, a pastor at Brentwood Baptist Church, commenting on the study, noted, “There is a substantial amount of people in this age demographic who for whatever reason decided that the church is no longer integral to building their faith, or their faith is no longer integral to them.”8
Scott McConnell, LifeWay Research’s executive director, admitted: “There was scarcely any good news in the study . . . . The reality is that Protestant churches continue to see the new generation walk away as young adults. Regardless of any external factors, the Protestant church is slowly shrinking from within.”9
“Come Out of Her, My People”
(Isa. 52:11; Jer. 50:8; 51:6, 9, 45; 2 Cor. 6:17)
I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, My people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities (Rev. 18:4-5).
If we are not gravely troubled by the current state of the church, then we will not contemplate or entertain radical alternatives that could return us to our deepest scriptural roots. Many believe (as I do) that the church at large has been completely co-opted until it has become just another expression of the world. We must consider this in light of Scripture’s portrayal of the kingdom as an entity that “cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:28) in contrast with the world that is “passing away” (1 John 2:17; 1 Cor. 7:31; 2 Pet. 3:10-12). Cataclysmic devastation will be the ultimate climax of the world’s endless march toward undefined “progress.”
In the last book of the Bible, the apostle John says that a cry will go out to the church, and what will this cry be?—“Come out of her, My people” (Rev. 18:4). This call from heaven summons the church to a spiritual exodus from spiritual Babylon, paralleling the Nehemiah-led departure from natural Babylon after seventy years in exile.
The church has lost her identity as the kingdom of God and the Bride of Christ because she has increasingly taken on the identity of Great Babylon. The church lives in a perpetual state of adultery, even while claiming to maintain her marriage to Jesus. But a saving, redemptive relationship with Christ can only exist within the contours of an exclusive marriage covenant between Christ and His Bride. For He says: “Come out from among them and be separate . . . and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters” (2 Cor. 6:17-18, NKJV). And, again, the apostle John says, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him”(1 John 2:15). We languish bereft of the Father’s love so long as we remain entangled in the world’s embrace.
If we want to enter into God’s covenant love, we must follow Him “outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:13). Think about it—He says,“Be separate . . . and I will be your Father,” as if separation precedes adoption.
Hebrews 11:15 says of the heroes of faith, “If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
Let us be mindful of the city God has prepared—great Jerusalem that would descend from the patterns and mind of God above—and let us endeavor to free our minds, hearts and lives from Babylon the Great, that terrible con-fusion of secularism and Christianity. Now is the time for pulling up roots, changing cultures, planting ourselves in the soil and context of the kingdom. We are called “outside the camp” because “here we have no lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (Heb. 13:14). This exodus call must ignite our hearts, minds and energies now and not be deferred to some distant time.
Reexamining Church Foundations
When a great building, such as a skyscraper, is being constructed, the most critical phase is laying the foundation. The whole building will stand immovable if the foundation is laid with precision. But suppose the foundation is askew even by a degree or two. In that case, as the building rises—19, 30, 50, 100 stories towards its apex—the error that seemed so minuscule on the foundational level will prove cataclysmic at the top. Believers in this climactic age stand on the upper floors of a building called “Christianity.” Yet this structure is teetering, swaying and even beginning to tilt precipitously. What slight tremor may topple the whole edifice, bringing it to a catastrophic fall? We must now critically reexamine the founding ideas, doctrines and patterns we are built upon—before we stand in the smoke and rubble of a total collapse.
At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe (Heb. 12:26-28, NIV).
The enduring church must be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). Scripture even delineates the specific truths that represent the most critical stones in God’s foundation: Repentance from dead works and faith toward God, the doctrine of baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection from the dead and eternal judgment (Heb. 6:1-2). And yet, the increasing instability and confusion all around us reveal the church’s straying departure from its original foundations. Instead of erecting a tower that is true and plumbed to the perfect pattern of God, we glimpse an edifice slipping from the rock, pummeled by modernity’s relentless winds and storms.
False Prophets Will Arise
If we look back in history, we see that truths were manipulated, falsified and perverted, not, of course, by the apostles of the Lord Jesus, but by men who came along later. Did not Jesus and the apostles warn us throughout the New Testament that false prophets and teachers would arise and lead people astray through “destructive heresies”?
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they (Matt 7:15-16)?
But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men (Matt. 15:9).
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel, which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ (Gal 1:6-7).
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (Col. 2:8).
As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines (1 Tim. 1:3).
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1).
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves (2 Peter 2:1).
Jesus, Paul and Peter repeatedly warned the church against dangerous false doctrine. They didn’t say, “Don’t worry, though, because doctrine is peripheral and inconsequential.” They admonished believers to recognize and avoid these aberrant doctrines as destructive heresies—falsehoods that actively dismantle the very Body of Christ. These erroneous theological constructs from men void the mere possibility of God’s promises for the church.
“That Form . . . to Which You Were Committed . . . ”
In Romans 6:17, Paul says, “Thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of doctrine to which you were committed.” Note that he does not say you became obedient to the form of doctrine that was “committed to you”—rather, he says to that form “to which you were committed.”
The Body of Christ is not a heap of stones, a pile of lumber haphazardly scattered or even carefully stacked according to human whim. Jerusalem is a “city compacted,” a living body held together by what every joint and ligament supplies (Ps. 122:3; Eph. 4:16). Paul explains that God has composed the parts of His Body “just as He wanted them to be (1 Cor. 12:18). What is the difference between a heap of stones and a stone temple?—the order by which the components are arranged according to a design. Doctrine is truth correctly arranged and configured as the temple’s structural framework, thus creating the context and means for how individuals connect and relate to each other within the spiritual house.
I have a friend who specializes in die casting. More specifically, he forms machine components out of aluminum. He must first build a form out of wax to create these components. Into that wax form, he then pours soft porcelain. When the wax is broken away, what remains is a porcelain form. Into that porcelain form, he then pours molten aluminum. Afterward, the porcelain is broken away, and finally, the desired machine part is revealed.
All human beings will be conformed to some image or another by being “poured” into specific cultural patterns producing consistent outcomes. So, when we pour our lives, relationships, vocations, desires, ideas and substance into the world’s cultural forms, we cannot help but also be conformed to that world’s image. When we harden and become set in our ways, we will look just like the world, having developed our lives within modernity’s contours, milieu and standards.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2, NIV).
To be “conformed to the image of His Son,” we must find the form that creates the contours of Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29). This can occur only within the context of the Body of Christ shaped by Spirit-anointed Biblical patterns. As we pour our lives into that form and become set, we will increasingly assume the image of Christ. As we grow up into Him who is the Head, we grow into the stature of Christ, a perfect man (Eph. 4:11-13).
When we look at the church today, we may see certain elements and pieces of God’s patterns. But some elements derive from a human origin and distort the image of Christ. Far from the unified corporate man the church is prophesied to become, we see a distorted image marred by human works, fashioning what might be described as a kind of Frankenstein aberration—a moving body devoid of Christ’s beauty, power and glory.
It is an amalgamation—a little bit of the world mixed with some of God—a confusion, which is what the word “Babylon” literally means. So we see the church covered with unsightly protrusions, like malignant tumors, and we wince and exclaim, “What is that?” Well, that is simply a place where the form broke down. Then there are also terrible gaps and voids. “What happened?” “Why did the ‘metal’ pour out through that hole?” Because some integral truth has been taken away.
Descent: The Foundation Is Compromised
Within 200 years of Jesus’ departure, the Greek thinking of the Neoplatonists had already begun to adulterate, obscure and confuse the church’s understanding of the nature of God, fusing Graeco-Roman patterns into the matrix and identity of Christianity. Corresponding to this shift, the working of the gifts of the Spirit had greatly diminished. Within another century and a half, no one any longer spoke in tongues. Healings were no longer taking place. Prophecy was vanishing from the church.
Within those same first 200 years, for the first time in history, Christians began to participate in the world’s military systems. They also began to entertain the possibility of participating in the world’s political systems.
Up to this point, Christian believers had categorically eschewed all violence and political involvement. Consider Tertullian’s words in the early 200’s:
“I owe no duty to the forum, campaign, or senate. I stay awake for no public function. I make no effort to occupy a platform; I am no office-seeker; I have no desire to smell out political corruption; I shun the voters’ booth and the juryman’s bench; I break no laws and push no lawsuits; I will not serve as a magistrate or judge; I refuse to do military service; I desire to rule over no one. I have withdrawn from worldly politics. Now my only politics is spiritual, how that I might do nothing except root out all worldly anxieties and cares.”10 – Tertullian (cir. 160-cir. 230 A.D.)
By 325, the Roman emperorConstantine had already perpetrated his great deception by pretending to be a Christian while merely capitalizing on Christianity’s reputation and growing influence to advance his political agenda. He never personally confessed Christ, nor did he come to any level of faith or repentance, and yet he presided over the formative church councils that reworked Christian doctrine and defined “orthodoxy” according to the concepts of pagan philosophies.
By 425, Augustine had formulated the doctrines that justified the church’s total abandonment of its first centuries of Christian nonviolence and nonparticipation in the political realm by a distorted interpretation of Scripture that qualified and explained away the necessity of this separation, claiming instead that there was room for Christians to express a “cruel kind of kindness,” even by bearing the sword.
So it was that the lamps of that great city on the hill were shattered, their flames snuffed out, one after the other, until almost everything that once distinguished the church from the black void that surrounded it was gone. Even so, the power of God’s Word, which this vitiated church on some level still preserved, was so great that the church, even in its semi-comatose form, exercised the only positive influence in a world that was being overtaken by all-consuming darkness.
The period between 904 and 964 is often called “The Rule of the Harlots.”11 Pope Benedict IX had been elected three times and eventually sold the papacy.12 The Theophylacti family held positions of increased importance in the vestigial Roman nobility, such as consul and senator and magister militum.13 Theophylact’s wife Theodora and daughter Marozia influenced Rome’s papal election and religious affairs through various conspiracies, trysts and marriages.
Marozia is one prominent example often given to depict the “Rule of the Harlots.” Pope Sergio III took Marozia (his cousin’s daughter) as a mistress when she was 15.14
She would later wed Alberic I of Spoleto. Then, as a strategic move to undermine Pope John X, Marozia married his political rival, Guy of Tuscany.15
Marozia and Guy attacked Rome and captured and imprisoned the pope until he died. After her successful coup d’état, Marozia became Rome’s ultimate power broker—ruling through her proxies, Pope Leo VI and Pope Stephen VII.16
In 931, she successfully ensconced her son John XI as pope in Rome. Six succeeding popes descended directly from Marozia’s four marriages and numerous alliances.17
The church had become a bastion of debauchery, immorality, intrigue, corruption and sodomy with every woe and dysfunction imaginable found within its hierarchy.18
The year 1054 brought the Great Schism, dividing Western European Christians from the Eastern Orthodox Church. As a result, the church found herself having to reassert her importance and authority to her followers. Instead of coming to a place of repentance, abandoning her spiritual adultery with Babylon and rediscovering her spiritual roots as an alternative kingdom, the church opted to solidify her coalition with the world.
By 1085 the Gregorian reforms had taken place under Pope Gregory VII. The church did not repent, seek the Holy Spirit, pray for revelation or search out the Scriptures. Instead, in another move toward greater confusion, the Catholic hierarchy sought guidance from the amalgamation of three disparate sources of law and morality—the Roman Justinian Code and Catholic canon law combined with New Testament ethics.
Papal electoral decree (1059) and the resolution of the Investiture Controversy (1075–1122) brought an overwhelming papal victory that, by implication, acknowledged papal superiority over secular rulers.
By 1125, the Gregorian reforms further amalgamated the Justinian Code, canon law and New Testament ethics into a singular hybrid. Human rationality became the supreme, unrivaled arbiter of truth. No one any longer seemed to require a visceral experience with the living God through His Spirit. Instead, like the ancient Jews had done with their Talmud and Midrash, the twelfth-century Christians institutionalized faith, thus nullifying its life and transformative power. The process was nearly complete. Spiritually neutered, thoroughly systematized, Christianity could now be weaponized in the hands of politicians and used to advance the desires and decrees of despots.
But at just the very moment when what had once been a city of light had finally dwindled to a mere flicker, a wealthy merchant by the name of Peter Waldo was stirred by a desperate desire to know the truth.
Ascent: The Restoration Begins
In 1170, in the city of Lyon in southern France, two events unfolded in the life of Peter Waldo that would forever alter his course. The first was the sudden passing of a dear friend. The other was merely overhearing a spiritual song sung by a traveling minstrel. The Holy Spirit would use these two events to bring Waldo to question his own salvation.19
The only available Scriptures were written in Latin, but his comprehension of that language was sketchy at best. So he hired two scribes to translate the entire Bible into his own French vernacular. He sought the counsel of a priest, who referred him to Luke 18:22: “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Peter Waldo was cut to the heart by these words, and in an impulse of enthusiastic sacrifice, he sold all his many earthly possessions and committed himself to a life of faith.20
Within a short time, a movement had formed, based on the following convictions:
- They rejected all authority not based on Scripture.
- They rejected purgatory and thus indulgences and prayers for the dead.
- They rejected the veneration of relics, pilgrimages and the use of “holy water.”
- They rejected the pope’s claim to authority over earthly rulers.
- They rejected the “apostolic succession of the pope.”21
When the Waldensians came under persecution by the archbishop of Lyon, Peter Waldo appealed directly to Pope Alexander III and received approval to continue in his faith. Just five years later, a new pope came to power. Pope Lucius III sided with the archbishop, excommunicating Waldo and his followers.22 It was a blessing in disguise! The first steps out of Babylon were taken.
Despite the excommunication and death of Waldo, the movement continued to grow, spreading into northern Italy and regions of Spain, Austria, Germany, Hungary and Poland.23
But the child of the bondwoman always persecutes the child of promise (Gal. 4:29), and the Waldensians were hunted, hounded, deprived of their property and forced underground. Nonetheless, they continued to persist, and what began as a tiny little flame in the hills of France and Italy would soon burst forth and spread fire all over Europe.
John Wycliffe, “Morning Star of the Reformation” (1330-1384)
In the latter part of the fourteenth century, two men on staff at Oxford University proved influential in the reforming of Christian theology. William of Ockham was a philosopher and early proponent of nominalism, a philosophy that had world-transforming implications that I cannot address here. (He is most famous for the principle known as “Ockham’s Razor.”) The other was a man named John Wycliffe, who lectured and wrote in the field of philosophy but found himself yearning to know more of the truth contained within the Bible.24
This thirst for the truth led to a serious study of the Scriptures, awakening Wycliffe to the startling degree that the Catholic church had departed from its origins. According to Roman Catholic law, translating the Bible into a “vulgar,” common language was punishable by death, but this did not deter Wycliffe from boldly proclaiming that the Scriptures must be translated into English. Soon, he and a group of colleagues committed themselves to make the written Word of God available in their own tongue.25
In Wycliffe’s day, there were no printing presses or other mechanized means of producing books. But for the first time in the history of the world, at the hands of a select group of devoted scholars, the words of the prophets, of the apostles and the Lord Jesus Christ were written down in the English language.26 Scribes hand-copied these Bibles and delivered them to hundreds of pastors around England and beyond. Another little flicker began to glow.
In 1415, the Council of Constance declared John Wycliffe to be a heretic. They dug up his bones and burned them to ashes, scattering them on the River Swift.27 But they could not undo the swift work that sent the Word of God pouring into the hearts of faithful men all over Europe.
Petr Chelčický’s Radical Ideas (1390-1460)
Encyclopedia Britannica calls Petr Chelčický “the foremost thinker of the 15th-century Czech Hussite Reformation movement.”28 This prolific author found himself stirred by John Wycliffe’s writings and the actions and words of Jan Hus of the Bohemian Hussite Reformation. He is most notable perhaps for being the first early Reformation figure to question and eventually oppose believers’ involvement in political affairs, specifically, violence against others.29
Chelčický eschewed violence in all church matters. He appealed to Christ’s wheat/tares parable to show that sinners and saints could civilly coexist until the end (Matt. 13:24-30).30 He believed that Christ forbade all forms of killing and that Christians should refuse military service.31 “Our faith obliges us to bind wounds,” he said, “not to make blood run.”32 He asserted that evil was a spiritual force, not to be snuffed out with physical weaponry. Christians, he insisted, should accept persecution without resistance or retaliation.33
Chelčický taught Christians to strive for righteousness according to free will without coercing the consciences of others.34 He wrote, “Wars and other kinds of murder have their beginning in the hatred of the enemy and in the unwillingness to be patient with evil.”35
And so one more piece of restored Biblical truth was placed on the believers’ table. A form that had once been shattered into a million pieces, whose fragments and shards lay scattered throughout the world, was gradually being put back together.
By 1457, a growing group of reformers had gathered together in Bohemia. They were officially referred to as the Unity of the Brethren. They later became known as the Moravians.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
In 1501, a young man was sent to study law in Germany. His name was Martin Luther. He was a raucous youth who, when he couldn’t find trouble, made it. But in 1505, he found himself in a terrifying electrical storm. Bolts of lightning, claps of thunder and the fear of God were hammering into his soul. He promised the Lord at that moment that, if spared, he would devote his life to God.36
At 21, Luther decided to quit law school and become an Augustinian monk. By 23, he was a priest. He made his pilgrimage to Rome, and it was there that his soul became troubled by the indulgences, profligacy and debauchery of the papacy. Soon, he was preaching and teaching against these blatant expressions of antibiblical, anti-Christian worldliness. Later that same year, in 1517, he penned 95 theses of contentions and questions in the Latin language and nailed them to the cathedral doors in Wittenberg. This sparked an outcry throughout all of Germany.37
Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire came to Worms and held a trial at which scores of princes and nobility from throughout Europe were represented.38 It was there that the prosecutor insisted that Luther’s beliefs had been refuted by the Council of Constance and pressed him to recant.39 Luther responded in his final statement, “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason . . . my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything . . . . God help me. Amen.”40
The emperor ruled that Luther was a heretic and, as such, an outlaw subject to be killed without notice by anyone who found him. He fled from that trial and was kidnapped by friends on his journey. They took him to the castle of a favorable prince, where he stayed under house arrest, living under an alias and changing his appearance.41 Though he struggled with depression, coming face to face with the devil on more than one occasion, the zeal of God wouldn’t let him go. So he picked up his pen and paper and began translating the New Testament into the German language. While reading the book of Romans, Paul’s words pounded into his heart: “The just shall live by faith.”42 He saw that the practice of the Roman Catholic Church whereby they would guarantee people’s status in heaven through the purchase of indulgences was nothing but a racket—a complete fraud. He realized that the only thing that could give us right standing before God was the attitude and actions of sincere faith.
Luther was not without his problems. In his later life, he persecuted those who dared venture beyond him in their ongoing pursuit of restoration. He even resorted to bigotry in his slander against the Jews.43 But while he was far from perfect, he did bring yet another critical piece of restored scriptural revelation to the table. Another section of the form was put into place—justification by faith.
The Swiss Brethren (1525)
In 1520, a pastor in Zurich, Switzerland, began to teach against the Catholic mass, transubstantiation and infant baptism. His name was Ulrich Zwingli. The magistrates of Zurich became alarmed that the abandonment of infant baptism would undermine their State authority. They brought threats against Zwingli, and sadly, as powerful and inspired as he was, he could not withstand the pressure. Almost overnight, he claimed to have received a counter-revelation to what he had been teaching, now asserting that God sanctioned infant baptism after all.
But it was too late. Zwingli had three students who had already seen the light. They had already had their hearts and minds opened to the Scriptures and could not turn their backs on the truth. They could not “un-see” the revelations God had given them. Zwingli chided his former students that they were being irresponsible. But they felt that he had betrayed the truth by his compromise.44
These three students of Zwingli—Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz and George Blaurock—are considered the founding fathers of the Anabaptist movement. They began a congregation that would eventually grow, spread and multiply to become the Mennonites, the Amish, the Hutterites, the Brethren and so many others around the globe who trace their spiritual roots to the sixteenth-century Anabaptists.45
Conrad Grebel was only 25 years old, Felix Manz, 28, and George Blaurock, 30. They had no long-standing tradition behind them, no great congregation to support them, no teacher or instructor to guide them, but they began to seek the face of God through prayer and study.
The magistrates in Zurich soon ordered that all children who had not been baptized must be brought for sprinkling within eight days, or their families would face exile from the canton. Despite this edict, Conrad Grebel refused to send his infant daughter for christening.46 Their small group of around fifteen adults stood in unity. None would comply with the magistrates’ command.47
On January 21, 1525, they were all gathered in Felix Manz’s house when the conviction of the truth settled into their hearts with such weight that they felt impelled to obey it immediately. After rising from their knees in prayer, George Blaurock, the oldest among them, spoke from his heart. He declared that, as an adult, with full knowledge and the maturity to make a responsible decision, he had come to place all his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He begged of the brethren that they would baptize him upon his profession of faith. He was baptized that very hour by Conrad Grebel. George then turned and baptized all the rest.48
An uproar occurred all over Zurich. The council passed edicts and pronounced judgments. They criminalized the faith of the brethren and demonized their followers. But these men would not be prevented from boldly preaching the truth that God had revealed to them. They declared that the church should be an alternative kingdom, entirely separate from the world’s kingdoms, and that Christians should play no part in State government or acts of violence.
On the cold afternoon of January 5, 1527, 28-year-old Felix Manz was tried by the Zurich Council and found guilty of heresy. He was led to a boat and taken by soldiers out onto the frigid waters of the Limmat River.49 A Protestant minister walked with him every step to the execution boat, trying to persuade him to recant his faith. They shoved Felix into a boat and rowed to the middle of the Limnat River. He could hear his mother and brothers from the opposite bank, encouraging him to be faithful even unto death.50
Felix’s hands were bound and pulled behind his knees, and a pole was placed between them. His final words were heard across the water: “Into Thy hands, O God, I commend my spirit.” He was unceremoniously drowned before the eyes of all Zurich, the first Swiss Anabaptist to be martyred at the hands of magisterial Protestants.
Conrad Grebel went about preaching and making converts throughout that whole region of Europe. “True believing Christians,” he declared, “are sheep among wolves . . . . They employ neither worldly sword nor war, since with them killing is absolutely renounced.”51 Although he is called the “ringleader” and “father” of the Swiss Brethren, he never lived to see 30.52 When arrested and imprisoned in a squalid Zurich dungeon, he wrote a defense of the Anabaptist faith, along with numerous letters that would guide many thousands well into the future.53 Because of the dungeon’s terrible food and damp conditions, his health was broken, and, though his spiritual brothers helped him escape from prison, he succumbed to illness and died at the age of 28, having lived as an Anabaptist for just one and a half years.54
The Protestant leaders of Zurich arrested George Blaurocknumerous times for teaching and preaching unauthorized doctrine. On the same day that his fellow preacher and close friend, Felix Manz, was drowned, George Blaurock was bound and taken to the east gate in Zurich, where he was stripped of his garments and led by soldiers to the west gate at the opposite end of the city. At the same time, men from behind and on either side of him beat him with rods, from the top of his head to the heels of his feet. When he reached the western gate of Zurich, the battered Blaurock, trembling from his beating, stooped down in front of the mob to untie his sandals. Turning around, he shook the dust from the soles of his sandals before the city and declared that he would continue preaching to those who had ears to hear.55
Less than ten years later, a Roman Catholic priest in what is now Holland witnessed the martyrdom of an early Anabaptist believer and began to search the Scriptures. His name was Menno Simons. The following year, in 1536, Simons describes his own conversion to faith: “I prayed to God with sighs and tears that He would give to me, a sorrowing sinner, the gift of His grace, create within me a clean heart, and graciously through the merits of the crimson blood of Christ, He would graciously forgive my unclean walk and unprofitable life.”56 Simons renounced Catholicism that same year. In the quarter century that followed, he became one of the most influential Anabaptists in history. His followers became known as the Mennonites. Menno Simons opposed the Münster movement’s violent tactics, classifying all forms of coercion as unscriptural. His theology focused on separation from this world, symbolized in baptism of repentance.
“For true evangelical faith is of such a nature that it cannot lie dormant; but manifests itself in all righteousness and works of love; it dies unto flesh and blood; destroys all forbidden lusts and desires; cordially seeks, serves and fears God; clothes the naked; feeds the hungry; consoles the afflicted; shelters the miserable; aids and consoles all the oppressed; returns good for evil; serves those that injure it; prays for those that persecute it; teaches, admonishes and reproves with the Word of the Lord; seeks that which is lost; binds up that which is wounded; heals that which is diseased and saves that which is sound. The persecution, suffering and anxiety which befalls it for the sake of the truth of the Lord, is to it a glorious joy and consolation.” – Men Simmons57
The “Woman” Flees to the Wilderness
Around that same time, a small group of religious reformers began to make waves over in England. As their enemies contemptuously coined them, the “Puritans” saw too many similarities between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, taking particular exception to the unbiblical ceremonies and rituals that had remained prevalent. Some felt they should try to purify the church from within. Others knew that wouldn’t suffice. They felt God was commissioning them to separate from the State church and thus became known as the Separatists. They were mocked, ridiculed and persecuted.
First, they fled to Holland. But they soon began to hear that the full freedom they sought might better be found across the ocean in a place called New England.58
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished (Rev. 12:1-6).
This passage of a woman expectant with a man-child, tormented by a great dragon, is reminiscent of Mary avoiding the wrath and cunning of Herod corresponding with Christ’s birth. In the Revelation account, the beast seeks to devour the man-child gestating inside of the woman. If the “woman” is the church—“the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26)—then the prophetic imagery seems to depict a time when the church would escape the “beast” or organized governments in Europe and flee to the “wilderness” of the New World.
Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth (Rev. 12:15-16, NIV).
Perhaps this scene depicts the church pregnant with the promise of Pentecost, fleeing to America where the persecuted church would find refuge in the earth from organized Statism until the corporate expression of the “Anointed One” should again stand upon the earth. But the dragon would seek to send streams of liquid modernity to knock the Pentecostal movement off its feet and sweep it again into the entrails and systems of the world.
Separatist Pilgrims Journey to America
The pastor of the Separatist Pilgrims that fled Europe on the Mayflower was a man named John Robinson. Before they left for the New World, he admonished them:
“I charge you before God, and before His blessed angels, that you follow me no further than you have seen me follow the Lord Jesus Christ . . . . The Lord hath more truth yet to break forth out of His Holy Word . . . . I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of the reformed churches, who are come to a period in religion, and will go at present no further than the instruments of their first reformation.” Luther and Calvin “were burning and shining lights in their times, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God . . . . I beseech you to remember it; it is an article of your church-covenant, that you will be ready to receive whatever truth shall be made known unto you from the written word of God.” But “take heed what you receive as truth; examine it, consider it, compare it with the scriptures of truth, before you do receive it. For it is not possible [that] the Christian world should come so lately out of such thick anti-Christian darkness, and that perfection of knowledge should break forth at once.”59
And so they went, to the shores of America . . .
Roger Williams, the founding minister of the Baptist church and movement in America, said, “At other times I have been drawne to consider of the little flock of Jesus, His Army, His body, His building, that for these many hundred years have been scattered, routed and laid wast and desolat: At present, I onely examine who are the personall and particular Sheep of Jesus Christ, His Souldiers, His living materials, though scattered, divided, and not compos’d and ordered at their souls desire.”60 He further predicted that “it may please the Lord againe to cloath His people with a Spirit of zeale and courage for the name of Christ, yea and power forth those fiery streams againe of Tongues and Prophecie in the restauration of Zion.”61
The Wesley Brothers (1735)
Just as the woman was fleeing to the wilderness of the New World, Europe was experiencing its darkest hour. England had become the haunt of demons, a place of total debauchery.62 But even amid complete darkness, upon those who sat in the valley of death, suddenly, a light began to shine. John Wesley and his brother Charles appeared with yet another missing piece of scriptural revelation, the lost truth of repentance. Within a brief period, that little light would break forth to illuminate and utterly transform an entire country.
In 1735, prior to this great English revival, John Wesley, now known as the father of the Methodist church, set sail at the age of 32 from England across the Atlantic to America. As an Anglican minister, he intended to pastor the British population in Savannah, Georgia. His ship was caught in a terrible storm, and though he was filled with fear, he was in the presence of other Christians who had peace and a relationship with God that he did not know. They were Moravians.63
The Wesley brothers returned to England from their second ministry voyage to America feeling like failures. Speaking of the trip, John said, “I went to America to convert the Indians; but, oh, who shall convert me?”64
Through much prayer, study and faith-filled hearing of the Word, “in the evening I went unwillingly,” he said, “to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed.”65
On May 24, 1738, John experienced a taste of “Pentecost.” He wrote in his journal: “The Spirit of God chased away the darkness of my unbelief.”66
The influence of the Wesleys swept across the world. They would write over 6,000 hymns, travel over 250,000 miles, and preach over 40,000 sermons.67 But John knew there were yet more steps to be taken or all else could be lost. “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America,” he prophetically declared. “But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.”68
The “Man-Child” Is Born
The “woman” kept fleeing. The church kept pressing the frontiers of faith through the wilderness, through the settling of America, and to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. It was there, at the end of the frontier, in a city called Los Angeles, on the street named “Azusa,” that the baby was born, messy and crying and speaking in tongues. The year was 1906, and the church, once again, had a chance to become the Body of Christ, the people of God, the Body of the Anointed One.
And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.
And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 12:11-17).
None of these men were perfect. Zwingli eventually recanted.69 Luther became an anti-Semite and persecuted those Reformers who came after him.70 But what they all had in common was a yearning for truth. They all desired to take one more step. We should be thankful to them and to God for what they did have, for what they fought so hard for and eventually gained. But as the passage of Scripture from Hebrews 11 with which we began clarifies, they were not made perfect without us—line upon line; here a little, there a little; precept upon precept, until with stammering lips and unknown tongues, God was restoring His church (Isa. 28:10-12).
Bringing Together in One All Things That Are in Christ
With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,
“After these things I will return,
And I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen,
And I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will restore it,
So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name” (Acts 15:15-17).
[He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth (Eph. 1:10, AMPC).
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:7-11, NKJV).
For too long, little tabernacles have been built around every piece of restoration discovered. One tabernacle might be called Lutheran, another Presbyterian, another Baptist, Wesleyan and so on. But in the dispensation of the fullness of times, God plans to bring together all things in Christ so that His form, this pattern that God gave, this New Jerusalem, would begin to descend on the earth from heaven—not coming up from below, but coming down from above.
Let me close with the words of Jesus: “What did you go out in the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet . . . . Among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt. 11:7-11).
Might God be asking us that same question? “What have you come out in the wilderness to see? Another idea? Another program? Another notion of man?”
And if we do see somewhere, even on some microcosmic level, an expression of Christ that seems to come close to wholeness, that seems to honestly communicate the character, the power, the substance, and attributes of Christ—this isn’t something we should fear or write off as a mere anomaly. Instead, we should say, “Oh, God! Eternal truths must have formed that image! They must have built according to a different pattern, a pattern closer to the original, to have produced something so close to what is promised in the New Testament!”
The book of Acts says that the heavens will receive Jesus until the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21).
Brothers and sisters, we mustn’t tarry.
Note about scripture references: Unless otherwise noted, all scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible.
1: “Chart of Mainline Church Membership Decline,” Institute on Religion and Democracy, 3 November 2005, http://www.irdrenew.org/, not attributed; “Catholics, Mormons, Assemblies of God Growing; Mainline Churches Report a Continuing Decline,” News from the National Council of Churches, 12 February 2010, http://www.ncccusa.org/news/100204yearbook2010.html, not attributed; Russ Jones, “‘Gay’ Clergy Leads to Membership Drop,” OneNewsNow.com, 17 August 2010, http://www.onenewsnow.com/Printer.aspx?id=1125624; “About the Disciples,” Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), http://www.disciples.org/AboutThe Disciples/tabid/67/Default.aspx, not attributed; “Stated Clerk Releases PC (USA) 2009 Statistics,” Office of the General Assembly, 29 June 2010, http://oga.pcusa.org/newsstories/stats2009.html, not attributed; “Ten Facts You Should Know about American Baptists,” American Baptist Churches U.S.A., http://www.abc-usa.org/portals/0/ABC10FactsBrochure.pdf, not attributed.
2 “Church Dropouts Have Risen to 64%—But What About Those Who Stay,” Barna, 4 September 2019, https://www.barna.com/research/resilient-disciples/. “Teens Change Their Tune Regarding Self and Church,” Barna Group, 23 April 2002, https://www.barna.org/barna-updat e/article/5-barna-update/72-teens-change-their-tune-regarding-self-and-church, not attributed.
3 Joseph Bottum, “The Death of Protestant America: A Political Theory of the Protestant Mainline,” First Things, August/September 2008, p. 26.
4 Bottum, “Death of Protestant America,” p. 26.
5 Kenneth L. Woodward, “Dead End for the Mainline?” Newsweek, 9 August 1993, http://www.newsweek.com/id/115101; Bottum, “Death of Protestant America,” p. 25.
6 Ted Olsen, “Go Figure,” Christianity Today, March 2009, p. 16.
7 Aaron Earls, “Most Teenagers Drop Out of Church When They Become Young Adults,” Lifeway Research, 15 January 2019, https://lifewayresearch.com/2019/01/15/most-teenagers-drop-out-of-church-as-young-adults/; Holly Meyer, “What New Lifeway Research Survey Says About Why Young Adults Are Dropping Out of Church,” Tennessean, 15 January 2019, https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/religion/2019/01/15/lifeway-research-survey-says-young-adults-dropping-out-church/2550997002/.
8 Meyer, “What New Lifeway Research Survey Says About Why Young Adults Are Dropping Out of Church.”
9 Earls, “Most Teenagers Drop Out of Church When They Become Young Adults.”
10 “Church and State Issues Relating to Jury Duty,” https://www.anabaptist.org/tracts/jury.html.
11 “Theodora the Senatrix,” Brooklyn Museum, https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/dinner_party/heritage_floor/theodora_the_senatrix.
12 George L. Williams, Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of the Popes (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co., 1998), p. 20
13 Williams, Papal Genealogy, p. 11.
14 Williams, Papal Genealogy, p. 13.
15 Williams, Papal Genealogy, p. 14.
16 Williams, Papal Genealogy, p. 14.
17 Williams, Papal Genealogy, p. 14.
18 Brenda Ralph Lewis, Dark History of the Popes (London: Amber Book Ltd., 2012), pp. 9, 20-24, 32-34; Charles Raymond Dillon, Those Naughty Popes and Their Children (Lincoln, Neb.: iUniverse, Inc., 2004), pp. 23, 241.
19 Jon Bloom, “The First Tremor,” Desiring God, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-first-tremor.
20 Bloom, “The First Tremor.”
21 Bloom, “The First Tremor.”
22 Bloom, “The First Tremor.”
23 Bloom, “The First Tremor.”
24 “John Wycliffe,” Geneanet, https://www.gw.geneanet.org/lard?lang=en&n=wycliffe&oc=1&p=john; “John Wycliffe,” New World Encyclopedia, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/John_Wycliffe.
25 “John Wycliffe,” New World Encyclopedia.
26 “John Wycliffe,” Geneanet.
27 “John Wycliffe,” New World Encyclopedia.
28 Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, s.v. “Peter Chelčicky,” https://www.britannica.com/biography/Peter-Chelcicky.
29 Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, s.v. “Peter Chelčicky.”
30 Enrico C. S. Molnár, A Study of Peter Chelcicky’s Life and a Translation from Czech of Part One of His Net of Faith (Berkeley, Calif.: Pacific School of Religion, 1947), pp. 17, 72.
31 Molnár, A Study of Peter Chelcicky’s Life, p. 134.
32 Molnár, A Study of Peter Chelcicky’s Life, p. 49.
33 Molnár, A Study of Peter Chelcicky’s Life, p. 68.
34 Molnár, A Study of Peter Chelcicky’s Life, p. 100.
35 Molnár, A Study of Peter Chelcicky’s Life, p. 135.
36 Alister E. McGrath, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution—A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, Harper One, 2007), pp. 39-40.
37 McGrath, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea, pp. 39-40.
38 Roland H. Bainton, The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century (Boston: Beacon Press, 1956), pp. 59-61.
39 “The Diet of Worms: Martin Luther on Trial,” Christian History, christian-history.org, not attributed.
40 Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1950), p. 180.
41 Encyclopaedia Britannica Macropaedia, 15th ed., s.v. “Luther, Martin.”
42 Encyclopaedia Britannica Macropaedia, 15th ed., s.v. “Luther, Martin.”
43 Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (New York: New American Library, A Mentor Book, 1950), p. 297.
44 Harold Stauffer Bender, The Life and Letters of Conrad Grebel (Mennonite Historical Society: Goshen College, 1950), p. 98.
45 William R. Estep, The Anabaptist Story (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975), pp. 8-11, 22-37; Roger E. Olson, The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition and Reform (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), pp. 416-17.
46 “Grebel, Conrad (ca. 1498-1526),” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia, https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Grebel,_Conrad_(ca._1498-1526).
47 Estep, The Anabaptist Story, pp. 14-15.
48 Estep, The Anabaptist Story, pp. 3, 49, 100, 104, 125.
49 Estep, The Anabaptist Story, pp. 30-32.
50 “Manz, Felix (ca. 1498-1527),” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia, https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Manz,_Felix_(ca._1498-1527).
51 William R. Estep, The Anabaptist Story: An Introduction to Sixteenth-Century Anabaptism, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), p. 41.
52 “Grebel, Conrad (ca. 1498-1526).”
53 Estep, The Anabaptist Story, 3rd ed., pp. 41-43.
54 Estep, The Anabaptist Story, 3rd ed., pp. 40, 43; Dan Graves, “Conrad Grebel Drew Crowds in Switzerland,” Christianity.com, 3 May 2010, https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1501-1600/conrad-grebel-drew-crowds-in-switzerland-11629934.html.
55 Estep, The Anabaptist Story, 3rd ed., pp. 33-37, 51-52.
56 “Menno Simons,” New World Encyclopedia, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Menno_Simons#cite_note-1.
57 Menno Simons, “Why I Do Not Cease Teaching and Writing, 1539,” in The Complete Writings of Menno Simons, trans. Leonard Verduin (Scottdale, Penn.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1984).
58 “The Puritans,” History, https://www.history.com/topics/colonial-america/puritanism.
59 Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana, Books 1 and 2, ed. Kenneth B. Murdock and Elizabeth W. Miller (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Belknap Press, 1977), pp. 144-45.
60 Roger Williams, Experiments of Spiritual Life and Health and Their Preservatives, ed. Perry Miller, vol. 7 of The Complete Writings of Roger Williams (New York: Russell and Russell, 1963), p. 48.
61 Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, ed. Samuel L. Caldwell, vol. 3 of The Complete Writings of Roger Williams (New York: Russell and Russell, 1963), p. 307.
62 Louis Kronenberger, Kings and Desperate Men: Life in Eighteenth-Century England (New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 1942), pp. 176-77.
63 “John Wesley, 1703-1791,” https://www.wmcarey.edu/carey/wesley/wesley.htm; “John Wesley’s Big Impact on America,” Christianity.com, https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline…/John-wesleys-big-impact-on-america-11630220.html?amp=1.
64 Richard Green, John Wesley: Evangelist (London: Religious Tract Society, 1905), p. 167.
65 Green, John Wesley: Evangelist, p. 196.
66 Green, John Wesley: Evangelist, p. 201.
67 Kasper von Greyerz, Religion and Culture in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800, trans. Thomas Dunlap (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 109; Jim Scott Orrick, “A Baptist Preacher and a Methodist Hymnal,” in Amazing Love How Can It Be: Studies on Hymns by Charles Wesley, ed. Chris Fenner and Brian G. Najapfour (Eugene, Oreg.: Resource Publications, 2020), p. 132.
68John Wesley, “Thoughts upon Methodism (1786),” in The Works of John Wesley, ed. Rupert E. Davies, vol. 9, The Methodist Societies: History, Nature, and Design (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1989), p. 527.
69 William R. Estep, The Anabaptist Story (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1963), pp. 8-13.
70 Roland H. Bainton, The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century (Boston: Beacon Press, 1952), p. 102; Abba Eban, Heritage: Civilization and the Jews (New York: Summit Books, 1984), pp. 198-200.