1st ed. Vols. 1-4. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, ©1954
|Warner Sallman, ©1940
"Head of Christ"
Jesus warns that while he is gone from earth there will be a proliferation of imitation Christians and asks, "when the son of man returns shall he even find the faith in the earth?" (Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43; Luke 18:8)
The Apostle Paul warns that the "mystery of iniquity is already working." (II Thessalonians 2:7) Many leaders within the Christian movement are already beginning the path to dominating the faith and customs of their fellow believers.
Paul again warns "the spirit says clearly that in later times some will depart from the faith listening to deceiving words and diabolical doctrines ... forbidding to marry; to abstain from meats ..." (I Timothy 4:1-3)
The Apostle John says that the primary doctrine of the Gnostic movement, which teaches Jesus was not actually a human man when on earth, characterizes the "spirit of anti-Christ which you heard shall come" (I John 4:3; II John 7)
The Didache, the earliest composition of Christian belief, is written. This statement of faith makes no mention of a burning hell, immortal souls, or a Triune God.
The Council of Nicea determines that Jesus did not have a separate existence from the Father. Christians who commemorated Christ's death yearly on 14 Nisan (Passover) were defeated in favor of a more frequent commemoration.
The theory of a Triune Christian God is further defined by Roman Church leaders at the Council of Constantinople.
The Roman Empire collapses. The Catholic Church gains control of their primary institutions, and adapts their religious ceremonies, changing the names and celebrations to "Christian" names. The title "Pontifex Maximus" once held exclusively by the Caesars was, from this point on, adopted by the Popes as their official title.
The new theory of a Triune Christian God is fully defined and formed in the Athanasian Creed. Those who oppose the Creed are judged to be heretics.
Emperor Justinian proclaims the bishop of Rome (Pope) to be the head of all Churches and confers upon them full Civil powers. Church laws are adopted as Civil laws.
The last of the "barbarian" hordes leaves Rome resulting in the only ruling power in that locale to be the Pope and the Roman Church. The Papacy, a religious institution, officially join church and state making them one unit.
The Synod of Constantinople declares the use of images in worship to be error, while proclaiming that Jesus was more than just a human man when he dwelt on the earth.
The Pope travels to France and crowns Pepin (King of the Franks) and his two sons in the name of the Church.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council of Nicea defies the views of the Synod of Constantinople and declares that images are in fact acceptable in worship.
|Coin image of Charlemagne
Pope Leo III, claiming to act as God's representative, crowns Charlemagne the Emperor of the entire Roman Empire. This audacious act inaugurates what came to be called the "Holy Roman Empire", and officially institutes the Roman Catholic doctrine of the "Divine Right of Kings". (which did not cease until 1918)
Representatives of the Eastern Empire in Constantinople travel to Rome and officially recognize Charlemagne to be an Emperor of the West, though not the sole Emperor or heir of the surviving Roman Empire. However, the Papacy uses this act to justify their claim to universal rule, and from henceforth crown or sanction all temporal rulers in Europe. Soon after, the "Constitutum Constantini
" (Donation of Constantine) is "discovered" and will be used by a dozen Popes to justify their temporal power, until proven a forgery in 1440 A.D.
The Eighth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople declares (amongst other things) that man possesses a soul, images must be used in worship, and Catholic bishops must be obeyed by secular rulers and Emperors in order to avoid the pains of hellfire.
The French followers of Pierre Vaudes (Waldenses) are the first to challenge the Catholic Church, and proclaimed the Papacy to be the foretold anti-Christ, and beast of book of Revelation.
Pope Innocent III. orders the murder of the Waldenses and Albigenses.
The Canons of the Fourth Lateran Council proclaim: (1) a Triune God; (2) an immortal human soul; (3) exclusive salvation in the Roman Church; (4) bread and wine literally transform into the flesh and blood of Jesus; (5) nobody may disagree with the Papacy; (6) nobody may preach without authority from the Church; (7) Priests are forbidden to marry;
(8) all must confess their sins to a Priest; (9) Jews are forbidden public offices.
Pope Innocent IV. issues "Ad Extirpanda", which inaugurates the Holy Office of the Inquisition.
The Pope issues the decree "Unum Sanctum", declaring that all people must submit to the Pope in order to gain salvation.
John Wycliffe is the first to translate the Bible into one of the earliest forms of the English language. He preaches that the Papacy is the unholy office of the anti-Christ.
The infamous Torquemada, Inquisitor-General of Spain, begins his activity in the Spanish Inquisition. By the year 1600, some 3,000,000 Protestants will have been heartlessly slaughtered.
Martin Luther nails to the door of the Church of All Saints in Wittenberg, Germany an announcement of a public discussion of 95 Theses denying, amongst other things, the efficacy of indulgences (giving money to the Papacy in exchange for the soul of dead relatives leaving Purgatory and going to heaven). This act inaugurates an unprecedented split from the Roman Church.
England passes "The Supremacy Act" which separates them from Rome and declares the British monarch the head of the Church of England.
The Counter-Reformation begins as the Jesuit order is formed.
As part of the on-going Counter-Reformation the Council of Trent re-emphasizes Roman Catholic doctrine in very bold terms so as to counteract the affect of the Protestants. Priests are forbidden to marry, and Catholics are forbidden to eat certain meats.
Personal Bible study and reading is forbidden. The existence of Purgatory is affirmed, and all who doubt it are condemned to punishment and judgment.
St. Bartholomew's Day bloody massacre of 50,000 French Protestants under the guide, direction and instigation of the Papacy.
Jesuit Francisco Ribera of Salamanca, Spain creates and introduces the "Futurist" view of interpreting the symbols in the book of Revelation. His purpose is to remove attention from Rome. This invention stated that the anti-Christ could not be Papacy, but would be one man (a politician) who in the far distant future would rule for seven-years from a rebuilt Jewish temple with 144,000 faithful Jews. This Catholic invention is unwittingly adopted and heralded by most 20th and 21st century Protestants, exactly as Rome intended.
Jesuit Cardinal Roberto Bellarmini of Rome furthers the cause of the Counter-Reformation by supporting and expanding upon Ribera's views regarding the anti-Christ.
In the continuing effort to cast attention away from Rome, the forty years of writings by Luis de Alcazar of Seville are published posthumously. Alcazar invented the "Preterist" view: that the prophecies regarding anti-Christ were fulfilled before
the time of the Papacy.
20,000 Protestants are slain in Magdeburg under the direction of the Pope.
40,000 Protestants are massacred in Ireland, with the blessing of the Pope.
Robert Fleming of Scotland shows from Biblical prophecies, and events of history, that the Papacy will be dethroned about 1794, and that its loss of power will begin in France. He also points to the year 1848 A.D. as a time of great violence and opposition to the Papal power. (see 1848 below)
Sir Isaac Newton's forty years of study into the books of Daniel and Revelation are published posthumously. He had predicted that the collapse and overthrow of Papal power would occur near the end of the 1700's.
The French Revolution begins. France violently casts off Papal power. The common people revolt against the Church/State system due to the inequities, injustices and excesses of the Papacy.
Emperor Napoleon writes to his brother, Joseph, that upon the death of the current Pope, no successor should be allowed in his place, and that the Papal line be abolished.
Only known photo of William Miller
Napoleon takes the Pope prisoner, thus ending the Papacy's millennium long grip over Europe. The Pope dies in captivity.
Napoleon, in his pre-eminent position of political power and authority, is the first world ruler since the Diaspora to actually call all Jews to return to Palestine believing that it was God's will for them to have their land returned to them. His defeat at Acre prevents his keeping this promise
The first international Bible Society, "The British and Foreign Bible Society" (BFBS), is formed to mass produce Bibles at a cheap price. This marks the first time in the history of planet earth that Bibles are distributed throughout the globe, and made available to all, often for little or no cost.
Through Napoleon's creation of the Rhine Confederation, and the abdication of the crown by Frances II. of Austro-Hungary, the "Holy Roman Empire" officially ceases to exist.
The American Bible Society is formed as a sister to the BFBS and aids in the distribution of low-cost and free Bibles all throughout North America.
William Miller, a Baptist minister from New York, rekindles the long lost hope in Christians for the second coming of Christ. Miller is condemned and ridiculed by the religious establishment as an insane heretic.
The Protestant "Evangelical Alliance" is formed in England to "lift up a standard against Papal and Prelatical arrogance and assumption
". This marks the beginning of Protestants' coming together as one body and forming their own creeds, just like Rome did centuries earlier.
Violent revolutions throughout the entire continent of Europe result in casting off Papal monarchies to establish republican forms of government, with freedom of religion, and human rights. The Papacy abhors these actions and proceeds to excommunicate and condemn to eternal judgment thousands of Europeans and Americans.
The "Syllabus of Errors" is published by the Vatican. It contained 80 doctrines and popular viewpoints circulating around Europe and America which the Papacy condemned. Some of the popular ideas they condemned were such things as: freedom of religion; that Protestantism was equal to Catholicism; that Pope's shouldn't control state affairs; that laity can choose their own leaders. This "Syllabus" also condemned the newly budding Bible Societies saying "pests of this kind are frequently reprobated [by the Pope] in the most severest terms
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, an independent Christian, is assassinated. Evidence suggests it was part of a Roman Catholic plan to eliminate religious and political freedom in America.
Christians all over the world are in great expectation for the return of Christ, believing that the 6,000 years from the creation of Adam are complete, and the seventh and final millennium begins.
Vatican I Council proclaims the Pope is infallible when speaking on behalf of the Church in faith and morals. The last of Papal temporal power is also seized as Italy annexes the "Papal Territories" and proclaims Rome the capital of a united Italy. This marks the first time Papacy had sat without any temporal power since 538 A.D. (Their temporal power was restored by Mussolini in 1929 with the formation of the State of Vatican City)
Charles Taze Russell, a wealthy young business man from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, devotes his fortune to the preaching of the Gospel to a world newly freed from the shackles of the Roman Church and Papal power; educated for the first time in the common schools; reading and studying Bibles for the first time in nearly 1,400 years; and already in expectation for the second coming of Christ.
CT Russell was not the first to encourage topical Bible study, nor the first to question the creeds by relying solely upon God's Word. Many Christians had attempted to determine the Truth. However, he was the first and only one at that unique time in mankind's history with the influence and means to take the fruits of such detailed studies and distribute them throughout the globe. By 1908 his writings were reported to be the third most distributed texts on earth up to that time.
Primary Historical Sources:
Froom, Leroy. The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers.