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THE THYATIRA ERA OF THE CHURCH OF GOD

The study this evening will be dealing with another Era of the history of God's Church [the Church of God]. In the Thyatira Era of God's Church we find one of the clearest indications in history of what the doctrines of God's Church were. Up until this time historical sources are very meager, down through history. You find bits and pieces, as you've gone through before. We've talked about the Ephesian Era of God's Church where the Church was referred to as the Nazarenes, functioning in and out of Ephesus after the fall of Jerusalem. They were admonished for not returning to their first love and preaching the Gospel. We find that Era dying out with John, one of the last Apostles somewhere between 90 and 100 A.D. [Actually, 135 A.D. at Pella, where the last remaining remnants of the Jerusalem Church split in two, at this date.] The Church was no longer in Jerusalem. They've been driven out of Jerusalem. According to Gibbon's "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire", which makes very clear statements there, "That as long as the Church in Jerusalem was intact they kept the Holy Days, they kept the Sabbath, they kept the Law of Moses." We find that illustrated very vividly through the book of Acts, and through the (four) Gospels. In Luke 4:16, it says, "Christ kept the Sabbath, as His custom was..." You find Christ going up to Jerusalem to keep the Feasts. Through the book of Acts, you find (Acts 17:2) "Paul went into the Synagogue, three Sabbaths, as his custom was..." keeping the Sabbath. He says, "I am hurrying to Jerusalem," in another place, "to keep this feast." In 1 Corinthians 5, which we will be touching on several times as we get closer to the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, he talks of the Church at Corinth being 'unleavened' and 'putting out the leaven of sin from their lives'. So it is very evident in the New Testament [that] the Church kept the Sabbath, kept the Holy Days, Tithed. You find Gibbon saying that about the early Church in Jerusalem. [This quote from Gibbon may have been written about the early Church of God, called the sect of the Nazarenes, before the famous council which is described in Acts 15, which would make Gibbon's statement historically accurate.] Confirmation of what the Bible says. Moving on from the Ephesian Era of God's Church, we move into the Smyrna Era. Roughly between 100 and 400 A.D. [In] the Smyrna Era, the Church [or the people in the Church] was called "Ebeonites", which translates as "poor men". They were persecuted extensively through Imperial persecutions. Not only was the true Church persecuted, but anyone that was called a Christian was persecuted during the first several centuries of the first Millennium after Christ's birth. So you find, it is kind of hard to tell who is part of the true Church of God and who is not through that particular period of time. The Ebeonites, though, appear to be part of the true Church. We find, individuals, we find an individual by the name of Polycarp who was trained by John, whose correspondence still exists. If you went to look up some of these things in "The Antinicene Fathers of the Catholic Church", some of his correspondence has been preserved. Polycarp is answering or writing to the pope in Rome. You have the "Quartodecimine Controversy" over the 14th of Nisan, [which was about] as to whether or not the Passover should be kept then or Easter. And Polycarp, who was the Bishop of Smyrna, [and the head of the Smyrna Era of the Church of God], writing to the bishop of Rome, again, he is not called pope at that time, but merely the bishop, and he [Polycarp] makes some very plain statements to the effect that, "We've always kept the Passover on the 14th of Nisan with John, who was a disciple of Jesus Christ, and we are not about to keep Easter." So you find this Quartodecimine Controversy about 150 A.D. emerging. You find correspondence existing today in some of the Catholic documents, of all places, where Polycarp is saying, "Look, we have learned from John, the disciple of Jesus Christ, to keep the Passover. We're not about to keep Easter." [Here is the clearest glimpse right back to the 100's A.D. that a segment—probably a Jewish old covenant segment—of the early apostolic Church of God, adhering to the New Testament Passover as originally kept by Jesus and John.] During this period of time you have the council of Nicea called by Constantine, (and I believe the pope at that time was an individual by the name of Sylvester,) in which Constantine chooses to align himself with one of the, looks like anyway, the more 'progressive elements' in this Christian movement. Basically to lend support of the state to this growing faction of people, but by the same time getting a faction behind him or to ally himself with. In 325 A.D. the Council of Nicea forbids the observance of Passover and makes the establishing of Easter and also Sunday worship obligatory throughout the Empire, making basically the so-called "Christian Church", which was really a false Christianity, but making it the official religion of the Roman Empire. Anyone who wants to meet on the Sabbath [Saturday, the Old Testament Sabbath of Exodus 20:8-11] or hold property that is involved with meetings on the Sabbath is basically banished from the Empire. That is the Smyrna Era. What the result of that is that true Christians are forced to flee to the uttermost outposts of the Empire. This ushers in, in 325 A.D., the 1260 day period talked about in Revelation in which the Church would flee "to the wilderness", prophetically being 1260 years, starts with 325 A.D. ends about 1585. We'll touch on that this evening because that comes into the period that we're going to be talking about.

The Pergamos Era [of the Church of God], basically, begins approximately, around 400 A.D. and runs until approximately 1000 A.D. During this period of time the true Church is literally in the wilderness. We find groups of Christians up in the eastern part of Turkey, modern Asia Minor, where these individuals were called Paulicians, named after [the Apostle] Paul. Also the term Cathars, which means Puritan, people with more pure beliefs, and also people by the name of Bogomils. Bogomils is the name, basically, given to these people once they have crossed over from modern Turkey into the area of the Balkan states, Hungary, Albania, Bulgaria, places like that. Basically through the Pergamos Era the Church is located in the extreme eastern parts of the Roman Empire, away from the centralized authority, where they can function, where they can live their lives as they would like to and where they can obey God's Laws without too much persecution. However, toward the end of the Pergamos Era, because they're up on the border of the eastern Roman Empire but also just north of the area where the Saracens, the Islamic nations are becoming active. [Saracen: Websters; a nomad of the deserts between Syria and Arabia...Moslem, esp. hostile to the Crusaders.] And you have Mohammed coming on the scene about 600 or so A.D., and with his legions he begins marching across Africa but also trying to move up into southern or southeastern Europe. These Paulicians lived in that area and for some reason they got involved with bearing arms, and fighting against the Saracens in that area. Again it might be interesting to speculate how they did that, unless their homes were being attacked and some of them felt, 'We just can't stand back and take it, we've got to do something'. For whatever reason, they got involved with bearing arms and they were actually used by some of the nobles in those areas for protection. And for that reason some of them were actually shipped bodily, hundreds, thousands of these people, shipped also over into the Balkan states, Albania, Bulgaria and other countries up through that area. Again, serving in the Army. They obviously lost some of the truth. That brings us to what we are going to talk about this evening, the Thyatira Era. As we mentioned before, just very briefly, we do find very explicit history of the Church through the book of Acts, but it ends very abruptly about 55 A.D. or 60 A.D. with the ending of the book of Acts. The True Church in Jerusalem flees to Pela, a small town north and west of Jerusalem about 69 A.D. prior to the Romans coming in and laying siege and destroying Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The question is, where do you pick up the history of the Church after that? We find some scattered references to what is going on. There are problems in the Church by 90 A.D. or 100 A.D. You read that through 1st, 2nd, 3rd John and Jude, indicating there were false teachers around at that time. The book of Revelation, though, gives us the key really because it gives us a prophetic history of what WOULD transpire, from the Apostolic Era [i.e., the Ephesian Era], literally, down to the present. We find that in Revelation chapters one and two and three. Revelation 1:20. "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven Churches." Again, a more correct translation of candlesticks is actually "lampstands". And what is interesting is that they are individual lampstands. You know the Candelabra that was in the Tabernacle [of the Old Testament] and in the Temple was a structure that had seven candles coming out of one base. And yet the implication here is that these are seven [separate lampstands], these candle sticks are actually individual lampstands, which again makes sense when we look at the message to the seven Churches. The general conditions which are described through the seven letters to the seven Churches describe really a two-fold thing. General conditions of God's people at any time down through history, because we can draw lessons from any one of those seven letters, but they're also describing seven successive stages or Eras that the Church would go through. And by using the Bible as a guideline it gives us things to look for in history.

THYATIRA

We'll start tonight with verse 18 of Revelation 2. I think what we'll do is just read down through the message to the Thyatira Church and then we'll look at what history has to tell us. And like I said, what we're going to find this evening is probably the most, one of the clearest indications from history of what the doctrines, what the practices of the Church of God have been in the past. And also we're going to find one of the most serious warnings to a Church, which I also think is applicable to us to day. Revelation 2:18. "Unto the angel of the Church of Thyatira write..." Again the word Thyatira means "sweet savor of contrition" or "sweet savor of real repentance, real change." We'll see the Church goes through some repentance here, but as we'll also see it has some problems. "Unto the angel of the Church of Thyatira write, these things saith the Son of God, who has eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet like unto fine brass. 'I know your works, your charity, your service, and faith and your patience, and your works..." Works is mentions twice, interestingly enough. "And the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against you because you suffer that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her space to repent of her fornication and she repented not. Behold I will cast her into a bed and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children and all the churches shall know that I am he that searches the reigns and the hearts and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak: I will put upon you none other burden, but that which you have. Hold fast till I come..." So we find some rather severe warnings here, but we also find some other very interesting things. The terms of Thyatira is referred to in the book of Acts with the account of Lydia. This woman who was a seller of Purple [cloth], who was from the city of Thyatira. You look up in various Bible dictionaries, Thyatira, in ancient Turkey, was an area that had some springs. The water was apparently very instrumental in being able to dye cloth a very beautiful purple. Thyatira was a commercial center, but it was tied into the production of cloth. This is going to be very interesting when we see where God raises up the Thyatira Era. Talking about Jesus Christ, His appearance, and again, Christ is mentioned in all these letters and usually the appearance is a little different. In this particular case it says, "These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass." What we are going to find out is that death by burning, burning at the stake, first came into widespread use about this particular time towards the end of the tenth century, in Italy and also in Spain, where death was used as a means of punishment especially for what were called heretics. You have Dante writing his "Divine Comedy" in which the wicked were thrown into hell and just burned and burned and burned. This became an accepted punishment. And it is interesting that the appearance of Jesus Christ at this particular time talks about a flame of fire. "I know your works, your charity, your service, your faith, your patience, your works." We're going to find groups of people here exemplified by works. In fact, the early works were not as great as the latter works, in this period. Charity of giving away of money that a person may have had in order to be able to serve more effectively God's people. Faith and patience are going to be tried severely through this period of time. "Notwithstanding I have a few things against you because you suffer that woman..." Again, in Bible prophecy a woman is symbolic of a church. In this particular case Jezebel is anything but the true Church. It is talking about the false church, 'that calls herself a prophetess, but teaches and seduces my servants to commit fornication,' to get involved with various worldly practices. We're going to see that. Another name for this Church of Thyatira is the compromising Church. A Church that makes various compromises over a period of time. And that is why they came into an awful lot of persecution. "I gave her space to repent of her fornication but she repented not. Behold I will cast her into a bed and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches will know that I am the one that tries the reigns." And basically ends here by God saying that he will put no other burden on that Church. Basically toward the end of this Era, the Church is literally burnt out. They are around but they are not doing anything anymore. This is the Biblical description of what this Thyatira Era of God's Church would be like. Let us go to history to find out how history fits with the description that we find here in the Bible in the book of Revelation.

THE HISTORICAL FACTS

Up to the Thyatira Era the last contact that we had with God's Church were the Cathars, from eastern Turkey, called 'Puritans'. [We had an Armenian family in our local congregation and the husband remembers the grandparents keeping the 7th day Sabbath, which some Armenian Christians had kept for as many generation back as they could remember. Armenia is in the area of Lake Van and Mount Ararat. Whole communities must have emulated or adopted some of the Paulician practices, the Sabbath being one of them. This is strictly word of mouth history, interesting but not totally verifiable.] We have them getting involved with warfare, but they kept the Sabbath, the Holy Days and so on. Again, not a whole lot of information on that group, but enough to identify them. We find groups of these Cathars or Paulicians being shipped out of that area over into Bulgaria where they pick up the name Bogomils. The word means "Friends of God". But they appear in Bulgaria about 900, 950 or so A.D. You find other groups of these Cathars then. Again, you got to picture that Bulgaria, Albania in those areas in the Balkans were not isolated. There were Roman roads that ran through, east and west, connecting those areas with the cities in Greece and also the northern parts of Italy. You had Roman roads reaching up into Germany. Roman roads running throughout France. So what we find is groups referred to as Bogomils and Cathars up in the area of Cologne Germany, in central France, as well as Bulgaria. But you find groups referred to variously as Cathars and Bogomils, as Bulgarians, associated with "heresy", in and around cities in Germany, central France, northern Italy, etc., by 1000 A.D. Where the Church really springs forth is in southern France, towards the end of the 10th century. You find or have an individual by the name of Peter de Bruys started preaching about 1104 A.D. around a little town in the southern part of France, called Albi. Again, in the southern part of France. But we are going to find a number of different names throughout this Era, and basically they are names given to groups of people who are following specific individuals. But we are also going to find quotes saying that they are all one and the same. As one individual says, "It's a monster with several heads but their tails are all intertwined into the same knot." These people around the area of Albi are referred to as Albigencians or Albigences, referring to people who come from this area. In southern France, interestingly enough, the way it fits with the Bible description, this area in southern France at this particular time in history was the center of texts of the textile industry in Europe at that time, in and around this area of southern France. It was literally the center of the textile industry in Europe at that time. Thyatira (the literal city) was what? It was an area where they produced a very beautiful cloth, in ancient Turkey. And it is interesting where God raises up the next Era of His Church is also in the middle of a textile oriented industry or geographical area. Many of the Cathars, referred to in various documents, are referred to as weavers. [Tkach means weaver in Russian]. In fact, I think that is extremely interesting that there are a couple of parallels here, that the French word for weaver is, begins with a "t" and there are several variants here. "Texerants", "Textors" and "Tisserants", all of these words being French for weavers. These people that traveled, in many cases, were textile merchants. And that was the guise under which they operated. But they were also carrying several pages of Scripture while they were walking around. Where, apparently, we get our word for the Bible, referring to it as a "text", apparently, traces back to the French word for these weavers, "Texerants", "Textors" and "Tisserants." And what I really think is interesting also, we just visited a family that started attending Church, and the last name of the fellow is Tessier. He's French, and they own a business. It may be interesting to find out where his ancestors come from. They may have been part of the True Church. It is interesting, more than interesting, that God talks about Thyatira as being, the Bible says, in an area where this very beautiful cloth was manufactured. And you find an Era of God's Church literally blossoming out in an area that was literally the center of the textile industry in Europe at that particular time. Just running through several of these people and several of the names: Peter de Bruys, dates approximately from 1104 A.D. to 1124 A.D., approximately twenty years, that he began preaching in around the area of southern France, northern part of Italy, the extreme north and western part of Spain, along the Mediterranean, and also near the mountains. And we'll find there were reasons. Peter de Bruys' ministry lasted from nineteen to twenty years, he was burned at the stake, for his beliefs. His followers were called Petrobrucians, in other words, "followers of Peter". These people were also called, as I mentioned, Albigencians, because they were from the area of Albi. But they had a very effective ministry, because, apparently, the whole part of southern France started going along with what they were preaching. We'll find out what they were preaching in just a little bit. He had a disciple, a follower, that he trained apparently, to carry on once he left the scene. An individual by the name of Henri, who preached essentially from 1124 A.D. to 1149 A.D. He died in prison. His followers were referred to as Henricians, or "followers of Henry". Then you have somewhat of a gap, for the next ten or twelve to fifteen years. However the next person that appears on the scene is an individual by the name of Peter de Waldo. Peter de Waldo was a rich merchant form Leone, an area in southern France, who literally came across a book from the Bible, and started reading it and perceived that the religion that was extant through that area, basically Catholicism, was not any way, shape or form, near what was described in the Bible. Peter de Waldo apparently started preaching about 1161 A.D. and he preached up until approximately 1217 A.D. So we're looking here at approximately 60 years. His followers were called Waldensians, or they were also referred to as the "poor men of Leone", because following Peter de Waldo's example, they also gave up much of their wealth, used it for serving God's people...Peter de Waldo apparently trained some other individuals. An individual by the name of Arnald Hott who preached approximately from 1184 A.D. to 1224 A.D. His followers were called Arnaldists, "followers of Arnald". Two other individuals apparently trained also by Peter de Waldo, an individual by the name of Joseph, and another by the name of Esperon, and their followers were respectively called Josephists and Speronists. So what you find if you kind of lump all these dates together, that things really begin happening about the first part of the 1100's. And about 1220 or so things are really happening. Apparently hundreds and even thousands of people were following and embracing the truth, and history suggests, that some of them really were sincere and others agreed with part of these (their) teachings, but didn't go along with everything else. What happened was, the impact of these preachers was so great through southern France, that you have Peter de Waldo in 1178 actually summoned to Rome, by the pope, to account for what he is doing and what he is preaching. And apparently he took a Bible he had translated into Provincial language the people spoke through southern France, northern Italy and northwestern Spain. He translated the Bible into the Provincial language so that the average person could read it. This was his approach in Rome. He apparently did not talk about doctrine, he just mentioned that he had translated the Bible into a Provincial language. And apparently the pope went along with that, but a year later the Laterin Council voted to forbid the Waldensians from preaching at all, because they could not stand the thrust of the preaching. Basically, what they were teaching was that the just very innocuous things like that the Roman Catholic Church was the Whore of Revelation [c.f.,., Revelation chapters 13 & 17), and that none of the Catholic Church festivals should be observed, and that the priesthood wasn't worth following because it was corrupt and also there was no Biblical example of people being called by these names. Just very small things like that. You understand why the Laterin Council would vote to forbid these people from preaching. In 1184 you have the pope actually excommunicating all heretics, into which categories of these people, the Waldensians, fell. But this didn't seem to stem the tide. By the time you get to the early 1200's, 1209, pope Innocent actually decrees that a crusade will be launched against these people. In other words, 'By force of arms we are going to exterminate these people'. That was a decree by a person by the name of pope Innocent. And his crusade lasted approximately twenty years. And by the time they were done with that crusade the Albigencians were basically removed [murdered] from the scene. In other words, you don't find any references to the Albigencians much after 1300, because they were persecuted not only by the crusade but by the Inquisition that began about this time and that lasted for the next two to three hundred years, where basically Dominican and Franciscan Friars were given the task of going around and interrogating people. 'Do you have any neighbors that follow this particular creed? If you do you are required to tell us who they are.' And when they found out who they were they tried the individual, and then turned them over to the civil authority. In other words, to say, 'You're guilty, your blood won't be on our hands, we'll turn you over to the civil authorities'. And they were burned, or tortured to death. And some of these authors made the statement, "It is amazing how many people recanted once they saw the Rack, and to be stretched out and literally be pulled apart." This is the kind of thing we find happening. It is interesting that during this period of time which we consider literally the height of the Thyatira Era, with these preachers literally converting hundreds of people, again how many were totally converted remains to be seen. Indications, maybe show there weren't that many, but apparently there were a lot of followers. But at the very height of the Thyatira Era you have this pope Innocent III coming on the scene, dates are 1198 to 1216, right at the height of everything. It is almost as if when God has the Church of this particular Era really going strong, Satan brings his big guns on the scene, almost. The description of Innocent III (from Haily's Handbook), "The most powerful of all the popes. Claimed to be the vicar of Christ, or vicar of God, the supreme sovereign over the Church and the world. he claimed the right to dispose kings and princes. And that all things on earth and in heaven and in hell are subject to the vicar of Christ." A very humble person (being sarcastic of course.) It says, "He brought the Church into supreme control of the state. The kings of Germany, France, England, practically all the monarchs of Europe obeyed his will. He even brought the Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire) under his control. Never in history has any one man exerted more power." Now this was the condition in the so-called Christian Church at that time, and yet it is also the very same time [that] Peter de Bruys, Peter de Waldo and these people are literally preaching up a storm, about corruption in the [Catholic] Church, about the false doctrines and so on. "He [Innocent III] ordered two crusades, decreed transubstantiation, confirmed confessing audibly to a priest." These were all brought into being under his papacy. "[He] declared that Peter's successor can never in any way depart from the Catholic Faith." In other words, papal infallibility began about this time. "He condemned the Magna Carta in England, he FORBAD THE READING OF THE BIBLE IN THE VERNACULAR ." In other words, anything but Latin, you can't read it. So what Peter de Waldo had done he didn't like. It is interesting that visiting those that are coming out of the Catholic Church, a number of them have made mention of the fact, "Well, we have been told by the priest not to read the Bible." At first I thought, Wow! how terrible. Yet when your read history, it's all there. This has all happened before. "He instituted the Inquisition, ordered the massacre of the Albigences [Albigencians], more blood was shed under his direction and that of his immediate successor than in any other period of church history."[Except maybe for the papacies in efforts to crush the Reformation in the 16th and 17th centuries.] "One would think Nero, the Beast, had come to life in the name of this individual." And that from Haily's Handbook. So this individual, [Innocent III], that was on the scene at the same time as Peter de Waldo, Peter de Bruys and these other individuals who were actively preaching. That kind of brings us to a close of the 12th century. By 1315 you have an individual by the name of Walter Lollard spreading the Gospel in England and Europe. By 1435 A.D. you have Sabbath-keepers on record in Norway. And by 1588 you have Sabbath-keepers not only in England, but in Transylvania, and literally throughout the area of western Europe. Just looking at what the [Catholic] Church had done, we mentioned the Laterin Council in 1179 A.D. forbade the preaching of the Waldenses, [in] 1184 pope Lucias excommunicates all heretics, [in] 1209 pope Innocent [III] instigates this Albigencian crusade, [in] 1215 the 4th Laterin Council forbids the reading of the Bible, period. [I.e., we don't want you reading it at all, even in Latin!] And also, what is interesting, is that pope Innocent actually started a rival movement to counter the impact of the Waldensians. Waldensians are basically characterized by the ministers basically giving up their worldly wealth, preaching a whole set of different doctrines, tirading against the corruption within the [Catholic] Church, the selling of indulgences and things like that, things that Martin Luther got upset about several hundred years later. But the pope at this time caused the development of what are called the Mendicant Orders. Mendicant means beggar. The Orders of the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Carmelites, various orders that were established within the Catholic Church, basically to reach the needs that were being expressed by people of that time. They were fed up with the corruption within the Church, and he actually had several Orders established. The Dominican Friars were established in 1215 and the Franciscan Friars were established in 1209 A.D. In fact, there were other groups, a group called "the Humiliated", these were groups that reacted against what was happening in the Catholic Church, but they remained part of the Catholic Church. Another group called "the poor Catholics" was established in the same region by an ex-Waldensian, to appeal to these same people. [This was] a counterfeit Waldensian [movement.] The Encyclopedia Brittanica, 11th Edition, under the article Mendicant Movement, "The Mendicant Movement responded to the widely spread and deeply felt needs of the time. These needs found expression not only in the Mendicant Orders of the Church, within the Church, but also in a number of more or less heretical and revolutionary sects. There was this common among the Cathari [the Cathars], the Waldenses, the Albigences and other heretical bodies that overran many parts of western Europe in the 2nd half of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th. And what they had in common was that they all invade against the wealth of the clergy and preach the practice of austere poverty and a return to the simple life of Christ and the Apostles. Thus the sectaries no less than the Mendicant Orders bear witness to the existence of spiritual needs in western Christendom which the Mendicant Orders went a long way toward satisfying." What was happening here basically in history, the whole feudal system here was beginning to break apart with the rise of your more merchant cities, and there were certain changes in society that were causing people to be more concerned about people that were living "high off the hog" so to speak. And they didn't like that. So these were some of the things that Peter de Waldo and the other preachers were against, but also there were groups within the Catholic Church that didn't like it either and they never really came out of the Catholic Church. But you have pope Innocent [III] actually helping to establish these Orders of these poor friars who then literally were mushroomed, in terms of numbers, numbers of people who got involved with them. But they were actually a counterfeit to what the Waldensians had started!

Let's read just a little bit about some of the doctrines of these groups. Again, what we need to realize is that hardly any of the original writings of these people survived, that they were persecuted, that they were hounded, their works were burned. And basically, where we find descriptions of them, is through the annals of some of the monks that were part of the Inquisition, basically descriptions from their enemies. So you have a mixture of truth and error here, but I think as we read and as we understand what the Bible says, we are going to see jumping out of the page literally what the doctrines of these groups were.
Albigences, again these were the people that arose around the area of southern France. It says that "the usual designation of the heretics was Albigences and were especially the Cathars heretics." Again we need to realize there are several groups of Cathars. Some followed God's Laws and others were involved with more eastern types of religions. "But the Cathar heretics of southern France of the 12th and 13th centuries, the name Bulgarians was often applied to the Albigences AND THEY ALWAYS KEPT UP INTERCOURSE WITH THE BOGOMIL SECTARIES OF THRACE." In other words, here you have your link with the Bogomils, the "friends of God", over in the eastern geographical areas. "Their duelist doctrines, as described by the controversial has presented numerous resemblance's TO THOSE OF THE BOGOMILS AND STILL MORE TO THE PAULICIANS, WITH WHOM THEY ARE SOMETIMES CONNECTED ." So here is the 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica linking these people, the Albigences with the Paulicians and with the Bogomils, whom we've already talked about. They mention, "Our knowledge of them is derived from their opponents and the very rare texts emanating from the Albigences which have come down to us. They formed basically an anti-priestly party in permanent opposition to the Roman [Catholic] Church and raised a continued protest against the corruption of the clergy in their time." It says, "People were attracted to the preaching and to the ministers, whose estheticism impressed the masses, and their anti-papal teachings [they] were teaching [by] Peter de Bruys, and [by] Henry of Luzzaine [or Luzzon] in the southern part of France..." It says, "Innocent III, whenever he ascended to the papal throne, resolved to suppress the Albigences." It mentions wholesale massacres here. "In 1245 the royal officers assisting the Inquisition seized the heretical citadel of one of these cities in southern France, and two hundred were burned in one day. Moreover the church decreed severe chastisement against all laymen suspected of sympathy with these heretics." This is in the area of southern France around Narbonne, Carcazonne, which is basically a very beautiful wine growing area. "Hunted down by the Inquisition and quickly abandoned by the nobles of the district, the Albigences became more and more scattered, hiding in the forests and the mountains, and only meeting secretly. After 1330 A.D. records of the Inquisition contain but a few proceedings against the Cathars or these Albigencians." That is what the Encyclopedia has to say. We'll move through a couple of other sources just so that you can get a feel for what sources are available and what they say about these groups.

The Albigences then, were people that came basically from the southern France area, persecuted extremely. We also find another group down in this area called Waldensians, or the Waldenses. What is significant about the Waldenses is, #1, where they came from and #2, what their doctrines were, #3, we'll see where they are today. The Waldenses are also called Vaudois (a French word). There are several different sources, some are better than others. Let us go to the Encyclopedia Brittanica first. Again, this is from the 11th Edition. "This area of the Waldensians is basically in the southwestern part of France in the area of Turin, one of the major towns. Just to its' southwest there opens the chief Waldensian valley, the Vella or Valle Pellice." And basically is an area, a mountainous area, a lot of very rugged valleys, yet with some very fertile plains within these valleys. But it is a very rugged area, to the north part of Italy, to the southwestern part of France. And it is basically those areas that the Waldenses fled. Again, Peter de Waldo began his preaching around Leone, in south-central France. But again, as they were persecuted, they fled eventually up into these valleys. It says, "The name 'Waldenses' was given to the members of a heretical Christian Sect which arose in southern France about 1170. The history of the sect in the middle ages is obscure because the earliest accounts of them come from those who were concerned with their suppression. Peter de Waldo came from this area of southern France." I think his actual origin is around Dauphiny, which is an area not too far from where these Waldensian valleys were. Again, the indication as we shall see from several different sources is that nobody knows when these people first appeared up in that area. Some accounts trace them back to a group of people who fled up into these valleys from Rome, when Constantine and Sylvester got together and decreed, or issued the Nicene Council Decision in 325 A.D. So apparently, and also the Bogomils are linked with these areas. These were areas of a trade route through those areas. And the indication is that Peter de Waldo's beliefs were not original to Peter de Waldo. That he apparently got them from people in these areas and then he began to preach them.

[To read a very interesting article which shows where the Baptist and Anabaptist churches in France during the 1200s AD and going on  into the 1600’s AD England probably came from, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/BaptistHistory.htm.  It shows that the Baptist churches may have actually come from the Sabbatarian Churches of God which came from Asia Minor, into southern Europe through the Bogomils, to southern France.]

 

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