What about the Waldenses? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
So we’re going back to this book by Jeff Johnson. It’s really sad that Ehrman gives me more to engage with than this guy guys, but such is the case. The source material can be found here.
Previously, we mentioned a group of people named the Waldenses (or Waldensians). We said that they made sure God’s Word was kept pure. We said this in connection with the Italic Bible of the Italian Church. In this chapter, we will examine their role in history.
As to these people we know that:
“The Waldenses were among the first of the peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures. Hundreds of years before the reformation, they possessed the Bible in manuscript in their native tongue. They had the truth unadulterated, and this rendered them the special objects of hatred and persecution …” [S2P215].
I am not sure about them having a Bible in their native tongue, but that’s not necessary to the point. They did indeed hold a lot of doctrines contrary to Rome. We could consider them precursors of Protestantism.
“The Waldenses of northern Italy were foremost among the primitive Christians of Europe in their resistance of the Papacy. They not only sustained the weight of Rome’s oppression but also they were successful in retaining the torch of truth until the reformation took it from their hands and held it aloft to the world” [S2P205].
When Constantine became Emperor and ‘called a truce’ with the Christians, his effort was only a ‘surface gesture’. Constantine was actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Beneath his sheep’s wool, he was actually trying to unite pagan Rome with the true Church and thus dilute Christian doctrine with the heretical teachings of Rome. History records that the Waldenses did not fall for this deception. For instance:
“… when Christianity, emerging from the long persecutions of pagan Rome, was raised to imperial favor by the Emperor Constantine, the Italic Church in northern Italy – later the Waldenses – is seen as standing in opposition to papal Rome” [S2P207].
Unfortunately, nothing from Constantine is cited for this. This is a form of libel honestly and he would need to show that Constantine did this. If anything, paganism started breaking down a lot after Constantine.
Thus, the Waldenses remained steadfast in their faith. They could not be moved by ‘the carrot’ (i.e. a deceptive truce) nor could they be moved by ‘the stick’ (i.e. persecution).
In his book “Which Bible?”, David Otis Fuller exposes Rome’s efforts against the Waldenses:
“The agents of the Papacy have done their utmost to calumniate their [The Waldenses] character, to destroy the records of their noble past, and to leave no trace of the cruel persecution they underwent. They went even further-they made use of words written against ancient heresies to strike out the name of the heretics and fill the blank space by inserting the name of the Waldenses. Just as if, in a book, written to record the lawless deeds of some bandit like Jesse James, his name should be stricken out and the name of Abraham Lincoln substituted” [S2P205].
Fuller might have mentioned this, but Johnson doesn’t. I would like to see where this took place.
Not only was the character of the Waldenses corrupted in the documentation that has remained, but other records of the Waldenses were blatantly destroyed:
“The destruction of Waldensian records, beginning about 600 A.D. by Gregory the I, was carried through with thoroughness by the secret agents of the Papacy” [S2P206].
The Waldensians didn’t even come into being until the 13th century. It is unclear to me how their records could be destroyed before they existed.
And if this was not bad enough, the Waldenses were physically persecuted by Rome.
“History does not afford a record of cruelty greater than that manifested by Rome toward the Waldenses. It is impossible to write the inspiring history of this persecuted people, whose origin goes back to apostolic days and whose history is ornamented with stories of gripping interest. Rome has obliterated the records” [S2P206].
In his book “An Understandable History Of The Bible”, Reverend Gipp says:
“We find that Rome’s wicked persecutions of the Waldenses culminated in a devastating massacre of their number in 1655. They were hounded as ‘heretics’ until the mid 1800’s when their persistence paid off and the vile actions against them ceased” [S1P85-86].
Unfortunately, to an extent this is true. However, it’s important to note that Constantine has been replaced with the RCC as if there is a one-to-one parallel. Despite this, there is no dispute I know of about the Bible being used. What’s disagreed on is the interpretation.
We owe a lot to the Waldenses:
“To Christians such as these, preserving apostolic Christianity, the world owes gratitude for the true text of the Bible. It is not true, as Rome claims, that she gave the Bible to the world. What she gave was an impure text, a text with thousands of verses so changed as to make a way for her unscriptural doctrines” [S2P214-215].
So “Throughout the centuries, the Waldenses … had sown the seed …” [S2P224].
Thus, the name ‘Waldenses’ is forever recorded in history. For us, they passed on the pure Word of God (until the reformation would do it in mass). They withstood Rome. They held fast in their faith. And, they did this even unto death by massacre.
There is no telling how many souls were saved because of the Waldenses. Maybe yours, maybe mine. No one knows.
This chapter is dedicated to the Waldenses, and to the role they played, in history, to preserve God’s Word. Now, back to the history of our Bible.
I don’t doubt that we owe a lot to the Waldensians. I do doubt that they preserved Scripture while the RCC corrupted it. Johnson has given me no reason to think otherwise.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)