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“…[W]as it really necessary for learned Catholics like Martin Luther, large number of priests, and a multitude of laypeople to break with Rome, fragmenting the Western church? The alternative of reform from within should surely have been attempted.

As an idea, it was much on the mind of many people during the Middle Ages. The kings of Europe even met with religious leaders at Konstanz in southernmost Germany, between 1414 and 1418, for a Council intended to solve the ills of the Roman church. Ultimately, however, little was accomplished, apart from eliminating rival popes to end a schism-and burning a holy man, John Hus, who had taught that only radical changes in Catholic doctrine and practice could heal the ills of Christendom. When John Paul II in St. Peter’s on 12 March 2000 apologized for the wrongdoing of his church, he failed to mention this incident, although he had originally planned to do so.

The Lord had loved the church at Rome when it was led by godly Priscilla and Aquila. As a good friend of ours used to say before his voice was swallowed up in silence, ‘Every harlot was a virgin once.’ Therefore when this congregation apostatized from Bible truth and adopted heathen practices, God did not abruptly abandon it.

In Old Testament times, he had often forgiven the lewd behavior of his people, both Judah and northern Israel, with its ten tribes, exclaiming: ‘How shall I give you up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel?’ Hos. 11:8. Similarly he was also longsuffering towards the backsliding Roman Church.

Through the great apostle Paul, he even- in advance- provided an antidote for many of its ailments: his greatest epistle to the Romans on righteousness by faith. This is the very book that would kindle, almost 1500 years later, an unquenchable flame of love for Christ and a deep desire for reform in Martin Luther’s heart.

Through many messengers, including priests and holy monks, the Almighty pleaded with the city on the Tiber. To the congregation of Thyatira, symbol of the saints whom Rome was oppressing and killing over 1260 years, the True and Faithful Witness wrote about the need for endurance to the end. He warned against the teachings of Jezebel, another symbol for Catholicism, yet also stated: ‘I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not’ (Rev.2:21). Eventually even the divine forbearance can be worn out, and God gives up, and as when in ancient times he said about the Kingdom of northern Israel: ‘Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.’ Hos.4:17” (Edwin de Kock, 7 Heads & 10 Horns, 2011. p.39-40)

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