By Theodore Shoebat
When one observes lies, one will always find them connected to some truth. The window of lies always needs the hinges of truth to have people feel comfortable enough to open it. And indeed, it has been opened many a time within the American church.
We have all heard of the old blood libel against the Jews, that they kill Christian children and use their blood to make matza bread. What is sad is that this same sort of distortion of truth has been applied on Christian history in thousands of books written by evangelical leaders.
I have heard on numerous occasions Christians attack historic revisionism, but within Christian circles I have seen, not just the most historic revisionism, but the most vitriolic and defamatory assertions, than in any other group.
The libel and slander which the Nazis once did, and what the Muslims are doing now, against the Jews, is ubiquitously known and condemned. But the lies and feigned accusations against Catholics, is almost universally accepted in America, thanks to the innumerable and artless books of many pastors and reverends, even though they are following the same slanderous logic against the Jews which they themselves condemn.
What is also amazing is how so few are willing to inquire in these lies, because evangelicals are continuously listening to sermons and reading books that are void of the careful and meticulous regard to historic sources. It is this that has been the major problem, that is, pastors all of a sudden have made themselves into historians, without even referencing any reputable historians.
John MacArthur, who is esteemed as a formidable and excellent theologian, made a sermon in which he agreed with Charles Spurgeon when he declared that he would rather be called a devil than a priest, and that the Catholic Church is worse than Satan himself. MacArthur, in agreement with the statement, proclaimed the quote in his presentation:
Call yourself a priest, sir! I wonder men are not ashamed to take the title: when I recollect what priests have done in all ages–what priests connected with the church of Rome have done, I repeat what I have often said: I would rather sooner a man pointed at me in the street and called me a devil, than called me a priest; for bad as the devil has been, he has hardly been able to match the crimes, cruelties, and villainies which have been transacted under the cover of a special priesthood.
The sermon may be heard on this video, and the statement of Spurgeon begins at around 1:55
MacArthur, in writing on the crimes of the Catholic Church (which are, to him, worse than the iniquities of Satan) believes that
the Roman Catholic Church has put to death more than fifty million “heretics” between A.D. 606 (the birth of the papacy) and the mid-1800s (1)
From where did he obtain this date of 606? There were heretics who were killed earlier than this. The first person to be executed for heresy was one Priscillian, who taught a doctrine in Spain which was a combination of Manichaeism and gnosticism, and in 383 he was executed. (2)
Another good example of this ahistoricity is John Hagee, just perusing his work one can see his vociferous disposition, and calumny toward the Catholic Church. When I was reading one of his books a number of weeks ago, I noticed how inept he is when it comes to sighting historic documents while he writes as though as he is an historian, making emphatically extreme accusations against the Catholic Church.
Hagee blames the Spanish Inquisition on the Catholic Church, and says that because of it, “326,362 people were burned alive”. (3) Dave Hunt writes that the Inquisition had 300,000 people burnt at the stake.
Tim LaHaye, in a description reminiscent to the blood libel against Jews, writes that under the Spanish Inquisition,
no fewer than 900,000 Protestants were put to death, in the Pope’s war for the extermination of the Waldenses. Think of monks and priests directing, with heartless cruelty and inhuman brutality, the work of torturing and burning alive innocent men and women; and doing it in the Name of Christ, by the direct order of the “Vicar of Christ.” (4)
Not one reputable historian would agree with any of these numbers, and I dare anyone to find some first hand accounts, with worthy veracity, which affirms that under the Spanish Inquisition “326,362 people were burned alive,” “300,000 people burnt at the stake”, and “no fewer than 900,000 Protestants were put to death”.
All of these unfounded numbers of supposed massacred people seem to be taken from one initial claim, and by the time so many of these theologians use it, the amount of dead are recounted with a ridiculous number in one book, and an equally erroneous number in another. It is quite amazing, how a lie travels only to be mutilated into countless other lies. This reckless and irresponsible presenting of fabrications as truth, is just one illustration of what happens when pastors play the role of historians.
Sadder than this, is the fact that people believe them. We have all heard the maxim, that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and so many use this when attacking liberals, without realizing that the great multitude who have accepted, without contention, the repeated lies against the Catholic Church, have fallen for this very method of deception.
All of these teachers have their sycophants, just look at this video of evangelical pastor Skip Heitzig saying “I’m not going to argue with Tim LaHaye” (starting at around 2:06):
I would argue with Tim LaHaye if I were on that stage. He, at around the 1:30 mark of the video, said that Russia, before the last 100 years was “a nothing nation”, but can only look at Russia’s Peter the Great and his war with the Ottoman Empire to know that this statement of LaHaye is pure rubbish.
Here is a brief, and factual, analysis on the Spanish Inquisition’s executions. In the first fifteen years of the Inquisition’s existence two thousand Jews were slaughtered. This was not because of the Catholic Church, but on account of the rejection of its authority and influence. In fact, when Jews fled Spain, the nation that opened their borders for them more than any other was Rome. There was even a saying within the Catholic Church, that “Rome is the paradise of the Jews.”
Most of the Spanish clergy in Rome were in fact of Jewish origin. (5) And regardless of the common assertion, no Jews are known to have fled to Turkey until a long time later. (5.1)
In the three hundred and fifty years of its existence, the Inquisition executed only four thousand people. (6) That’s about eleven people a year. It took them this amount of time to execute four thousand lives, whereas the Muslims, in the one year of 1066, managed to slaughter three thousand Jews in the Spanish city of Granada alone, (7) and this is after they conquered Spain.
The absence of prudence when speaking of historical events, is again exemplified in a book written by Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, in which the Spanish Inquisition is akin to Hitler’s Holocaust:
Anyone who reads history must admit that the Inquisition and Hitler’s holocaust were far worse and occurred long after A.D. 70. (8)
This statement illustrates their ahistorical, and slanderous, way of discourse.
What the Romans did to the Jews in 70 A.D. was much more brutal, cruel, and severe, than the Spanish Inquisition. The Romans committed more bloodshed within the year 70, than what the Spaniards did in 350 years. The historian Josephus, in his history of the Jewish War, in which he took part, describes the Romans’ innumerable crucifixions of Jews:
so they [the Jews] were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures before they died, and were crucified before the wall of the city. This miserable procedure made Titus greatly to pity them, while they caught every day five hundred Jews; nay, some days they caught more … So the soldiers out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest; when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies (9)
Hagee shows his lack of historical assiduousness when he writes on the Spanish Inquisition. He writes:
The point must be made that this Inquisition was established by the Roman church and received its power directly from the pope. (10)
But here is the reality: The Inquisition was under the control of Spanish monarchs, since it was a Spanish affair, not under the jurisdiction of the papacy. While the authority of the inquisitors came directly or indirectly from Rome, the fact still remains that from its very inception the Spanish Inquisition was established to be a governmental institution.
King Ferdinand who, with his queen Isabella, commenced the Inquisition, declared to his inquisitors in 1486:
Although you and the others enjoy the title of inquisitor, it is I and the queen who have appointed you, and without our support you can do very little.
Ferdinand actually once claimed that confiscations of property imposed upon heretics were by the order of the pope, making it seem as though it was the Church that was responsible for the punishment. But in fact it was the secular authorities who carried out the taking of property, not the Church.
Ferdinand, in 1501, actually issued a decree prohibiting anyone from asserting that the Inquisition was under papal authority, “because”, he said, “in fact it is all ours.” (11)
The constitutional rules for the Inquisition, written by Cardinal Torquemada, were made “in concert with the King.”
The lower inquisitors answered to the Grand Inquisitor who could not act without the authorization of the Supreme Council, which was not established by the Catholic Church. Thus when the Inquisition acted, they did so as royal judges, not ecclesiastical judges. (12)
From a report of the Spanish Committee we find that
in no Papal Bull, can it be found, that the Supreme Council has the right to decide any cause, in the absence of the Grand Inquisitor,–but which, however, is constantly done, without the slenderest difficulty.
The report concludes to say that “in these cases, the Councillors act, not as Ecclesiastical, but as Royal judges.”
Moreover, in showing its secular status, the Committee states that “neither at present, nor formerly, could any order of the Inquisition be, I do not say, executed, but so much as published, without the previous consent of the King.” (13)
The historian Garnier affirms that “the Religious Inquisition was nothing more nor less than a Political Institution.” (14)
Ferdinand was, in fact, so filled with rage against the Pope, that he pretended to disbelieve in the legitimacy of the papal bull.
For the next half-century the Papacy attempted to intervene in the Inquisition in order to stop abuses. For example, there were bulls by Pope Innocent VIII issued on February 11 and July 15, 1485, which asked for more mercy and leniency, and for greater use of secret conversions of heretics, on the part of the Inquisition.
Papal intervention would lead to several quarrels between the crown and the Catholic Church. (15)
Whether or not the crown would listen to the Pope completely depended on the monarchy. When Innocent VIII strived to have a policy of sending papal letters to accused people appealing to Rome, Ferdinand hindered the Pope and decreed that anyone who used papal letters of appeal without royal permission would be put to death and their property confiscated by the state. (16)
Hagee goes even so far as to carelessly, and without diligence, affirm that the pope condoned the raping of Jewish women in the First Crusade:
As a “bonus,” the Crusaders were permitted to rob the Jews of their possessions. They could murder the Jews and rape their daughters and wives, and all was forgiven by the pope even before they left on the Crusade. (17)
This is purely slanderous as one can see clearly, when reading his book, that he didn’t take the slightest measure of time to make reference to any primary source from the time of the Crusades in order to prove his assertions.
A primary source is a document written at, and recording events of, a particular time in history. When one reads primary sources, one is reading history, and when one reads a modern book on a past event, one is reading a book on history. Hagee’s book is absent of any primary sources when making such outlandish claims.
It is unjust, to blame an entire cause with evils completely contradictory to itself. Was there violence done by specific crusaders? Yes. But one must differentiate between the stated mission of the Crusade, made by Pope Urban II, and the deeds of a few men which are completely out of order from the initial goal.
The mission of the First Crusade can be found in Urban’s speech in the Council of Clermont.
When one is reading the Council of Clermont, which was the meeting that commenced the First Crusade in 1095, you will find no mention of killing or raping Jews by Pope Urban II, the man whose zealous voice ignited the unquenchable desire to fight for the Holy Land. Although, you will find mention of Muslim barbarians destroying churches and persecuting the saints, and the call to war with Islam and to preserve the eastern Christians.
There was no call made by Urban II to kill or rape Jews; one could sight the sacrilegious massacres done by certain people during the Crusades, but that can only be attributed to the wickedness of these murderous men, and not the Church.
Hagee, after writing all of this, issued an apology toward the Catholics, confessing that he was wrong in his libelous material against them:
In the process, I may have contributed to the mistaken impression that the anti-Jewish violence of the Crusades and the Inquisition defines the Catholic Church.
The apology extended by Hagee was politically motivated, since it was done during John McCain’s campaign, in which Hagee was humiliated by McCain’s disowning and rejection of him.
Hagee has continued with his flimsy, fragmented, and inadequately general accusations against the Church. In his most recent book, written in 2013, Hagee again blamed Pope Urban II for trivializing and forgiving the rapists and murderers of Jewish people:
The first crusade was declared by Pope Urban II in 1095. The Crusaders were rapists and thieves, forgiven in advance by the reigning pope for any sins they might commit while on their holy campaign to liberate Jerusalem from the infidels. (18)
Were all the Crusaders rapists? Did they all go for the purpose of ravishing and pillaging? Hagee never takes the time to give us the slightest example, from historical documentation, of these sorts of crimes. He just says it, and people modishly believe it.
In the same book, Hagee also thoughtlessly says that the seven major Crusades were in fact pogroms against the Jews:
Historic Christianity has left an evil legacy. It is responsible for the Crusades, in which Jewish people from Europe to Jerusalem were slaughtered in seven major pogroms (crusades).
Hagee apparently does not know the difference between a pogrom and a crusade. A pogrom is an organized massacre, orchestrated against a specific ethnic group. A crusade (from the French, croisée) simply signifies the state of one taking up his cross for a certain Christian cause. The Crusade was not a pogrom, because it was not deliberately targeting an ethnic group, but a religion, which for the most part part was Islam.
Hagee never takes the time to even explain the goals of each of these seven particular Crusades which took place in the Middle Ages. The Crusades, primarily, were done to drive the Muslims out of Eastern Christendom, and to preserve the Faith of the Nazarene in the Middle East. This object was that of the First Crusade, as was explicitly stated by Pope Urban II in a statement completely void of any justification of rape or murder:
Your brotherhood, we believe, has long since learned from many accounts that a barbaric fury has deplorably afflicted and laid waste the churches of God in the regions of the Orient. More than this, blasphemous to say, it has even grasped in intolerable servitude its churches and the Holy City of Christ, glorified by His passion and resurrection. Grieving with pious concern at this calamity, we visited the regions of Gaul [France] and devoted ourselves largely to urging the princes of the land and their subjects to free the churches of the East. (19)
The rest of the Crusades followed after, and were all done for the purpose of crushing Islam.
There is even an incident within the history of the Crusades of support for Jews. St. Bernard, who was one of the strongest advocates for the Crusades, supported the fight against Islam, but condemned any sort of violence towards Jews in Israel.
St. Bernard preached against the dangers of the teachings of a Cistercian monk named Raoul who called for the slaughters of the Jews (20):
Is it not a far better triumph for the Church to convince and convert the Jews than to put them all to the sword? Has that prayer which the Church offers for the Jews, from the rising up of the sun to the going down thereof, that the veil may be taken from their hearts so that they may be led from the darkness of error into the light of truth, been instituted in vain? If she did not hope that they would believe and be converted, it would seem useless and vain for her to pray for them. But with the eye of mercy she considers how the Lord regards with favour him who renders good for evil and love for hatred. …Who is this man [Raoul] that he should make out the Prophet to be a liar and render void the treasures of Christ’s love and pity? (21)
Another error I noticed within the works of these evangelical leaders, is their sympathy and acceptance of the heretics called the Cathars or Albigensians, or Paulicians, and the Waldensians. I have written on the Cathar heresy and its false doctrines here and here.
The Cathars rejected the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, and also believed that Christ never came in the flesh, but was a phantom or spirit. And also like the Mormons, they believed that Jesus was the brother of Lucifer. Their hatred for the Catholic Church was so immense, that one Cathar was found saying:
We have destroyed St. Anthony and St. Mary; it only remains for us to destroy God. (22)
The Waldensians, you could say, were reminiscent to the modern day Christian liberal groups who are against the death penalty. According to one medieval document, the Waldensians said, “concerning temporal justice, that kings, princes, and officials are not permitted to punish malefactors.” (23)
By this, they rejected the law which God gave to Noah:
Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made man. (Genesis 9:6)
John MacArthur, as educated as he is, does not consider the Albigensians, or Cathars, and Waldensians, as heretics, but as being a part of the original believers, when in reality they simply broke away from the Catholic Church and were not pre-existent to it. While MacArthur rejects the biblical discourses of certain medieval theologians, he accepts the heretical groups:
While the period produced some famous preachers, such as Peter the Hermit, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Thomas Aquinas, none handled the text in an expository fashion. Faint hints of Bible exposition have been detected among independent groups such as the Paulicians, Waldenses, and Albigenses, despite the fact that these groups are commonly dismissed as “heretics.” (24)
Tim LaHaye, who is praised and lauded as a brilliant prophecy buff, sympathized with the Cathars of southern France, who were repressed by the Catholics:
In the period immediately following [Pope] Innocent III the Inquisition did its most deadly work in Southern France (see under Albigenses) (25)
The inquisition which was done to the Cathars is called the Medieval Inquisition, and John Hagee as well condemns it:
Through his [the inquisitor Torquemada's] villainous acts of torture the Spanish Inquisition ultimately surpassed the Medieval Inquisition of 1233 in scope, intensity, and atrocities. (26)
Dave Hunt also accepted the Cathars, and the Bogomils (another heretical group very similar to the Cathars) as the being a part of the first church:
Furthermore, millions of biblical Christians resisted Rome for fifteen years before Luther or Calvin. Albigensis, Waldenses, Bogomils, Paulicians, Baptists, and those who simply called themselves “Christians” or “brethren” traced their doctrines back to the apostles and never obeyed the popes. (27)
Hagee, MacArthur, LaHaye, and many other Evangelical leaders, speak out against Iran and jihad, but are despicably ashamed of Christianity’s history, which, with the greatest fortitude and the purest piety, is filled with heroic men with endeavors to destroy the Antichrist religion of Islam, annihilate heresy, perpetuate and preserve orthodoxy with all of its glory, and advance the Kingdom of Heaven over the tyranny of the devil.
This destructive shame, which is saturated in reckless assertions, is also done by evangelical pastor Skip Heitzig:
History records the dark exploits of the church during those years of organizational cohesion, including such infamous episodes as the Crusades and the Inquisition. While a finely tuned ecclesiastical machine maintained law and order on the European continent, evangelism was conducted by the edge of the sword. Pogroms kept the infidels at bay while a strict hierarchy of bishops, friars, and cardinals maintained a fearful presence among the people. Such mistakes must not be repeated. (28)
This is a general, yet emphatic, statement, without an ounce of detail or evidence, and with utter attribution to the Catholic Church for all sorts of violence, which is not specified by Skip. It is also pathetic, and shows the weakness, frivolousness, and superficiality which has flooded the American church. Christians would be stronger today if they would study their history; if only they knew what evils the Church has defeated, would they be more zealous to confront the wicked men who seek our destruction today.
Numerous Christians, rightfully, speak out against Islam, but without ever acknowledging that if it were up to the Crusaders, there would be no Islamic problem, and not only this, but no leftist trait would ever find itself on a superior level over orthodoxy in Christendom. With such great zeal, the Crescent would be brought low before the Holy Cross, and the window of lies would be shattered, and would never manage to hijack the hinges the truth. Why are Christians so ashamed of their history? Because they do not know true history.
With all of this slander, all of this attempt to destroy the pillars of Christendom, I am reminded of the words of Petrarch:
Such are the times, my friend, upon which we have fallen; such is the period in which we live and are already growing old. Such are the judges against whom I have so often inveighed, who are the innocent of knowledge or virtue, and yet harbor the most exalted opinion of themselves. Not content with losing the works of the ancients, they must attack their ability and their ashes. They rejoice in their ignorance, as if what they did now know were not worth knowing. They give full reign to their unlicensed and conceited spirits and freely introduce among us new authors and outlandish teachings. (29)
(1) *MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John 12-21*
(2) *Edward Peters, Heresy and Authority, ch. i, p. 42; St. Isidore of Seville, On the heresies of the Christians, in the same work of Peters, p. 49*
(3) *Hagee, In Defense of Israel, ch. 3, p. 26*
(4)*LaHaye, Revelation Unveiled*
(5) *P.F., The Spanish Inquisition, USCM, vol. ii, p. 462. See also Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition, ch. 2, p. 24; ch. 3, p. 32; Maistre, Letters on the Spanish Inquisition, letter 1*
(5.1) *Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition, ch. 2, p. 24*
(6) *Thomas F. Madden. “The Truth about the Spanish Inquisition.” Crisis (October 2003)*
(7) *See Moczar, Islam at the Gates, prologue, act 2, p. 17*
(8) *Tim F. LaHaye and Thomas Ice, The End Times Controversy, intro, p. 12*
(9) *Josephus, Jewish Wars, 2.11.1, trans. William Whiston*
(10) *Hagee, In Defense of Israel, ch. 3, p. 25*
(11) *Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition, ch. 7, p. 165*
(12) *Maistre, Letters on the Spanish Inquisition, letter i*
(13) *Maistre, Letters on the Spanish Inquisition, letter 1*
(14) * In Maistre, Letters on the Spanish Inquisition, letter 1*
(15) *Thomas F. Madden, The Truth About the Inquisition; Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition, ch. 3, p. 49-50; ch. 4, p. 71; ch. 7, pp. 137-8, 149*
(16) *Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition, ch. 7, p. 157*
(17) *Hagee, In Defense of Israel, ch. 3, pp. 21-22*
(18) *Hagee, Four Blood Moons, ch. 1*
(19) *Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont, the version of Guibert of Nogent, in Edward Peters, The First Crusade, ch. i, pp. 15-16*
(20) *See Mills, Hist. Crus. ch. 8, p. 120; John France, War Cruel and Unremitting, in Thomas F. Madden’s The Crusades, part 3, pp. 60-1*
(21) *Quoted by Warren H. Carroll, A History of Christendom, vol. iii, ch. ii, p. 62*
(22) *Peter of les Voix-de-Cernay, 221*
(23) *Quoted by Edward Peters, Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe, ch. iv, p. 142*
(24) *MacArthur, Preaching: How to Preach Biblically, ch. 3*
(25) *LaHaye, Revelation Unveiled*
(26) *Hagee, Four Blood Moons, ch. 3, brackets mine*
(27) *Dave Hunt, James White, Debating Calvinism*
(28) Heitzig, When God Prays, ch. 10, 129-130
(29) *Petrarch: On Some Fourteenth-Century Latin Averroists, in Edward Peters, Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe, document 49*